Stories of Experiences with Companies from Telephone Tax Resisters
These companies either merged with another company or they offer only wireless service, which does not carry the federal excise tax. However, the stories show some of the communications with companies that might offer some interesting background or ideas for dealing with your company.
Bought by AT&T in 2006 as part of its wireless service. There is no federal excise tax on wireless service.
(Summer 2005) The text of an interesting document sent to NWTRCC by someone who worked for Cingular and wrote, “This is the official policy given to customer service representatives from Cingular’s upper management.” (The Cingular policy document is no longer online.)
(Dec. 2005) I had been working with a very nice woman in the Ocean Springs office who was removing the federal excise tax faithfully every month, this changed after Hurricane Katrina. The handling of my resistance was moved to the Tulsa Center (addresses at link above) because, I was told, I was the only person in the entire Gulf States-Southeast-Indiana region who was doing WTR! Well, I hope that isn’t the case, but, in any case, if you are a Cingular customer in those states, I recommend contacting Tulsa instead of Ocean Springs to have your resistance properly handled.
BTW, this is now almost the simplest WTR I’ve ever done. I do nothing. Cingular automatically removes the federal tax amounts on the 28th of each month. I’ve got my payment set up on their *729 system, so each month I just dial *729 on my cellphone, the recording tells me the balance due (so I can be sure the taxes have been removed) and then I press 1 to have the amount owed billed to my credit card. It takes just a few seconds! No extra letters to send or anything.
You should be able to set up the same thing. Start by sending a letter explaining your inability or refusal to pay the federal tax to the appropriate Tax Exemption Group office for your region, which you’ll find at the link in the first Cingular entry above. Ask them to let you know on what date each month they will be removing the federal tax. They will want it to be a certain number of days after your bill is sent out, in order to give you the option each month of changing your mind. (My billing cycle ends the 13th, so they’ve added half a month to that before removing the tax amount. Payment is always due the 5th or 6th of the following month, so I have a week in which to dial *729 and make the payment.)
There is no longer a federal excise tax on wireless phone service.
(August 2005) From a T-Mobile customer: Instead of sending a slip along with the bill, a separate letter with the usual details (reason for refusing, date of invoice, amount refused, signature of refuser) should be sent each month to:
Offline Tax Support Group
P.O. Box 37380
Albuquerque, NM 87176
In response to the information below, T-Mobile emailed us to say: “We want to make sure that your users’ complaints and concerns are directed to the proper T-Mobile customer service representatives so that they can be remedied where possible. Such concerns can be directed to 800-937-8997. Additionally, legal complaints can also be directed to T-Mobile’s registered agents. They exist in every U.S. state and are registered with each state’s Secretary of State.”
(March ’05) T-Mobile had threatened (and started – see first report below) to cut off my phone service for refusal to pay the tax. When I called and they took my complaint to the Tax Support Team, the TST came back saying it was a part of my bill and the charge stood in place. I then wrote a letter to the Legal Department, pointing out two things. First is item 6 in the T-Mobile Consumer Code, which distinguishes carrier charges from taxes and other fees. The second was the IRS Fed. Regulations Code included in the NWTRCC website. I asked for my account to be credited for the excise taxes I had paid since the inception of my contract with them. I received a letter today from the Legal Dept., stating that my account has been credited and the amount as been reported to the IRS. One small victory! I have since switched to Working Assets, but for anyone attempting this with T-Mobile in the future, I’d suggest writing the letter and not playing the runaround game with the Customer Service rep’s on the phone. Here’s the address to their Legal Department: Legal Department T-Mobile USA, Inc., P.O. Box 37380, Albuquerque, NM 87176.
(Feb. 2005) I have T-Mobile and they have been totally sending me through the ringer. The issue is still not resolved but is taking so long that they are canceling my service for non-payment (I received the notice today). I am switching phone companies but still have to deal with the situation. I am sending a letter to their legal department, noting their consumer code, which differentiates between carrier and tax charges, and the notation on your website from the IRS Code of Federal Regulations. They said they’ve never heard of this before.
When I initially brought up the matter, the representative said he filled out a form to the tax support team. They responded that I had to pay for my services, as was in the contract. I disputed the fact that the tax was a service, and pointed to their consumer code, item 6 which states that the carrier makes a clear demarcation between carrier services and other taxes and fees. This was in my letter to the legal department, along with the IRS fed. code on your site.
Merged with AT&T in 2006.
Persistance Pays Off!
I have been refusing to pay Federal Phone tax since the 1980’s. In my current household, since June 2001 until today, our current local service provider, Bell South, has often failed to credit our phone bill for the amount of the refused Federal tax. Over the years it had built up. This summer I received information about a different address to send my bills to. The address is on the back of one of the pages of the bill, as an address to send payments that are in less than the amount of the bill, but which you are tendering as full satisfaction of the bill. I sent payments to this address for several months with a full accounting of every month for which credit had failed to be issued. Today we received a call from Bell South stating that they had made all of the credits which we had requested. Hopefully this will show up on our next bill.
— C.B., North Carolina
This correspondence after many phone calls and sending Bell South the IRS regulations:
From: Consumer Customer Service
Sent: Wednesday, April 30, 2003 11:06 AMTo: B.F.
Subject: Re: RE: RE: Billing Inquiry
Dear Mr. F.,
Thank you for contacting BellSouth regarding the Federal taxes on your phone bill.
I am glad to assist you with this matter. I will be able to adjust the Federal taxes on your April 5, 2003 bill. I will make a note and we will contact the IRS. You will need to contact BellSouth each month to have this done. At the time, we are having system problems, but I will follow up to ensure the adjustment is made. For now, please deduct the amount of Federal taxes from your bill.
Should you need further assistance or have other questions, please reply back to this e-mail and the BellSouth Online Customer Care team will be happy to help you.
Sincerely, BellSouth Online Customer Care
There is no longer a federal excise tax on wireless phone service.
Okay, I did it. Here’s the letter you need to send by fax (800-734-4707) to get Verizon Wireless to stop charging the Federal Tax on your bill:
Phone #: X
To Whom It May Concern:
This letter is a formal statement to take all necessary measures to meet my request for my Refusal to Pay the Federal Excise Tax.
Thank you very much.
I sent a letter to the President of Verizon, Ivan Seidenberg, about a 2 months ago. At the same time, I was able to hook up with D.W. of the Executive Relations Office of the President for the Midwest Region (based in Elgin, Illinois). She received my letter and we chatted about the need for Verizon to implement a system for conscientious objectors to be able to withhold the federal excise tax on their wireless accounts (as you may recall, my cell service was disconnected for $ 33.86 in unpaid federal tax dollars). She recognizes that Verizon is behind the times here, especially given the climate of potential imminent war with Iraq. She stated that they are seeing more and more CO’s regarding this issue. Anyway, she is one of several people who have been asked to develop a system for folks like us. I have to admit she was very friendly, understanding, and is doing a pretty good job at enlightening her fellow co-workers on the issue. In all, I had spoken to four of her colleagues about this and all were very cordial and understanding…
She called me one evening and asked me “what do you want from Verizon?” We came to an agreement that I would pay the remainder of my contract for the remaining 3 months ($59.85). Verizon in turn waived the $200.00 cancellation fee, late fees, federal taxes, and got the creditors to stop calling me…
[to fellow phone tax resisters] I appreciate so much the emails, your inspiration, written correspondences, copies of legal documents to support my case, etc. If it weren’t for your strong belief, faith, and dedication to what you do best, I would have paid the bill (in full) a long time ago. I know there are many more people in this world who feel like we do.