Alexander Graham Bell, Meet Senator William Roth

Yesterday was a big day in the history of telecommunications. On March 30, 1876 Alexander Graham Bell made the fist telephone call. Countless schoolchildren have memorized his first message, “Watson come here. I need you.” Over the last 124 years, the telephone has gone from being a curiosity, to a luxury item, to a common, everyday method of communication.

So, it is only fitting that yesterday, Senator William Roth introduced S. 2330, A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the excise tax on telephone and other communication services. Fellow Republicans Don Nickles, Frank Murkowski, and Connie Mack as well as Democrats John Breaux and Chuck Robb joined Roth in support of this legislation.

We applaud these Senators. I called Senator Roth to see what he thought of this historical coincidence. A spokeswoman for Senator Roth said, “One hundred and twenty-four years ago the telephone was cutting edge, and a century ago it was a luxury; today it is time to get rid of this tax on nearly 95 percent of American households.”

In the last few years various elected officials have introduced legislation affecting the excise tax. More often than not, the new legislation is designed to use the money collected from this tax to fund new government programs.

This tax dates back to the Spanish-American War, and has been repealed and re-introduced many times. If we hope to finally rid ourselves of this tax on talking, we will need citizen activists to contact their senators and show their support for Sen. Roth’s bill.