What with all the "big" and "breaking" news happening today, here's one small item that likely won't get much notice. But it can be considered a victory for the American taxpayer. The Treasury Department is killing the "sin tax" that appears on our phone bills and was the the subject of a Fleecing of America with correspondent Fred Francis (produced by yours truly) back in 1998. The purpose of the tax -- to pay for the Spanish American War. That's right... the "Remember the Maine" and Teddy Roosevelt and the Roughriders war. But now the Treasury Department says it will no longer collect the telephone tax on long-distance calls and it's going to refund about $15 billion to consumers.
The tax dates back to 1898, when telephones were seen as a luxury and lawmakers needed a quick tax to help pay for the Spanish-American War. The war ended, we won, but the tax stuck around for another 108 years. According to current plans, individual taxpayers can claim three years worth of refunds on next year's tax return.