Nearly one-third of Arizonans who have filed their federal income tax returns failed to request the telephone excise tax refund.
“We are baffled why we can’t seem to give away money ... a lot of money,” said Bill Brunson, Internal Revenue Service spokesman in Phoenix.
The latest IRS figures show the unclaimed refunds total nearly $9 million. Out of 926,945 returns filed by Arizonans, 299,858 did not request the telephone excise tax refund.
“Generally speaking, an individual has three years from the due date of a return to request a refund, so they would have plenty of time, but why wait?” Brunson said. Last August, the IRS stopped collecting the long-distance excise tax after federal court decisions held that the tax does not apply to long-distance service as it is billed today.
Federal officials authorized a one-time refund of tax collected on service billed from March 2003 to August 2006. Taxpayers only are entitled to the 3 percent tax on long-distance and bundled service. The tax now applies to local-only telephone service. Standard refund amounts range from $30 to $60 based on the number of exemptions claimed on an individual’s tax return.
Filers can request the standard deduction amount by completing one line on the tax form. That standard amount will result in a $30 to $300 refund for taxpayers who complete the line.
Filers don’t even have to file a tax return to get the refund, Brunson said.
“Taxpayers who would not otherwise have to file can use form 1040EZ-T to get either the standard amount refund or a refund based on the actual calculation using past long-distance phone records,” he said. “You can go to free volunteer tax assistance locations around the state and get help for free to file the 1040EZ-T if you plan to request the $30 to $60 standard amount.”
What to do
If you’ve already filed your federal income tax return and didn’t claim the telephone excise tax refund:
• File a Form 1040X amended return.
• Information about the tax is available at www.irs.gov, or call (800) 829-1040.