How to Resist Phone Tax

How To Refuse the Telephone Excise Tax on Local Phone Service

This federal excise tax does not apply to long distance calling or to mixed-use services like cell phone or internet service. It applies to local billing only.

  • Simply deduct that amount from your monthly local phone bill. The bill should show an item labeled “Federal Excise Tax” or “Federal Tax.” When you pay the bill(s), minus the tax, insert one of our forms or your own note explaining that you are not paying the tax because of opposition to military spending, etc. Some companies want you to send the note separate from the bill payment; check the back of your bill for something like “send correspondence to…”.
  • Some phone companies require that you notify them of this each time you pay or else the unpaid tax will accumulate as “balance due.”
  • Do not allow the tax to accumulate as a “balance due” for many months. If it does, contact the phone company and complain. The phone company should credit your account and report the unpaid tax on a quarterly basis to the IRS.
  • Some companies have been especially uncooperative in crediting bills for the unpaid phone tax. But with persistence, when necessary asking to speak with a supervisor, contacting the company frequently (so as not to allow the bill to accumulate too much), most telephone tax resisters have succeeded in getting the company to credit the tax. Some have taken to writing the CEOs of their phone company on a regular basis about these problems.
  • Some companies have been more cooperative at times. AT&T sent a form in 2005 authorizing the company to withhold billing of the federal tax for “war tax” reasons, while noting that this nonpayment will be reported to the IRS.

Note that the taxes labeled “Federal USF Surchage,” “FCC Line Charge,” or “Federal Relay Charge” are not war taxes to be resisted. For more detail on phone bill charges, see the FCC’s “Charges on Your Phone Bill” page.