*** Warning! Warning! Danger Will Robinson! Tax lingo ahead! ***
... the IRS could owe you taxes that they've collected even though the courts have struck them down:
Here's a switch: The Internal Revenue Service might owe you money. This is because the IRS has collected a 107-year-old tax on long-distance telephone calls that several courts recently have found invalid.
For individual consumers, getting some of your money back might prove to be more difficult than it's worth.
Businesses, however, might consider going after a refund from the IRS -- especially companies that spend hundreds and even thousands of dollars each month on long distance. Still, don't expect the federal agency to cough up any money anytime soon.
At issue is the federal telephone excise tax, a 3 percent levy on the long-distance portion of your phone bill. It fills the federal government's general coffer to the tune of about $5 billion each year.
The basic issue here is that the tax on long distance calls defines the type of call to be taxed as one whose charge is based on the "distance and duration" of calls. However most long distance calls are no longer taxed based on the distance between the two points participating in the call. Consequently, several courts have found the tax to be invalid. That hasn't stopped the IRS from collecting it though.
However, if you're wanting to get this money back you need to see if it's worth the trouble. If you spent $500 on long-distance you'd only be talking about $15 in refunds. For those who spend several thousand a year, or more, it might be worth it.