107 Year Old “Temporary Tax” Must Go!

Statement By 60 Plus Association President, Jim Martin

Arlington, VA — “On behalf of the 60 Plus Association and senior citizens all across America, I am calling upon the 109th Congress to do what should have been done decades ago — the immediate and total repeal of the highly regressive ‘tax on talking’.

“This outdated tax is unnecessary; it hurts the poor and disadvantaged and is certainly an impediment to senior citizens, especially those on fixed incomes.

“Look at your next phone bill. The ‘Federal excise tax’ is the smokescreen tax imposed to pay for the Spanish-American War 107 years ago. At risk of sounding ridiculous, that war is not only long over but long since paid for… however, like any tax levy, the tax burden has never gone away!

“The Spanish-American War was waged at a time when telephones were considered an extravagance and as is always the case, the “rich” were taxed for this luxury. Can any clear thinking person today consider the ubiquitous telephones, cell phones or internet access we enjoy — as a “luxury” or something only enjoyed by the so-called “rich”? Of course not. Everyone pays this tax, but the heaviest burden falls on the least-able.

“This 107 year-old tax must go. The 60 Plus Association calls for its permanent repeal immediately — or until such time as the Spanish-American War flares up again. As a personal aside, my recently-deceased stepfather who passed on at a remarkable 105 years of age, quipped to me once how he’s been paying this tax 85 years! He said, ‘Jim, all those dollars could have paid for a lot of prescription drugs’ and he’s certainly right about that!

“In 2000, legislation offered by former Congressman Rob Portman (R-OH) and the recently deceased Robert Matsui (D-CA) to repeal the tax on talking, ultimately was vetoed by then President Clinton. That was a shame, for it was a true bi-partisan effort with repeal embraced by the overwhelming majority in the House 420-2. Today, I’d think H.R. 1898 offers a chance for Congress to pass legislation supported by both sides of the political spectrum, void of all the partisan rancor so common on the Hill today. In that regard, 60 Plus commends Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) for following the lead of the House and offering legislation for that body, also.

“We at 60 Plus support H.R. 1898 in the name of tax fairness. Further, I congratulate Americans for Tax Reform for leading this most recent charge to abolish this tax.”

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