Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Cease Fire! End the Spanish-American War

Today I was surprised to learn that I am still financing a war we fought over 100 years ago.

In 1898 Congress enacted an excise tax on telephone service to help finance the Spanish-American War. Now, five generations later, Americans are still paying for that war. Today our phone bill includes a 3% Federal telecommunications tax – the same tax imposed to pay for our war with the Spaniards.

Peter J. Ferrara of
Americans for Tax Reform writes:

The telephone excise tax imposes a total burden on the public of $5-$6 billion per year. It is one part of the oppressive overall tax burden, which costs the average family more than food, clothing, and shelter combined. Taxes overall take 40% of national income, which is far too high. There is no justification for the telephone tax and it should be repealed, as part of a broader, overall tax reduction program.

The late President Ronald Reagan couldn’t have been more right when he said, “There is no such thing as a temporary government program.”


Banks said...

Did you see that the origial Act, passed in 1898, was a "temporary" tax?

Matt Cole said...

Yes, and I should have included that in my original post. The tax was implemented to recover debt incurred from the S/A War and was only meant to be temporary. However, Congress has always found reason to keep it around, including paying for both World Wars, Vietnam, and even Kosovo. Never has there truly existed a temporary tax within government.