CSE President Paul Beckner’s Letter to the Senate on H.R. 3916, The Telephone Excise Tax Repeal Bill

June 21, 2000

Dear Senator:

CSE recruits, educates, motivates and mobilizes a growing army of volunteer activists to fight for less government, lower taxes and more freedom. On behalf of our 250,000 members, I urge you to vote in favor of H.R. 3916 “The Telephone Excise Tax Repeal Bill.” This is an onerous tax that affects 95 percent of Americans and must be repealed.

The federal excise tax was instituted in 1898 to help fund America’s brief war with Spain. Unfortunately, the brevity of the conflict had little effect on the lifetime of the tax. Intended as a tax on those who could afford the luxury of owning a phone, the excise tax has metastasized into an annual six billion dollar government confiscation.

Beyond the obsolescence of the rationale used to implement it, the excise tax needs repeal because of its negative effect on consumers. The regressive three percent monthly tax punishes the economically disadvantaged who must use a greater proportion of their income to pay for it. Furthermore, the tax dramatically increases the aggregate cost of connecting to the Internet and contributes to the perceived gap in Internet access between income levels.

The Spanish-American War was a decisive victory for a blossoming nation; Senate passage of H.R. 3916 would be a decisive victory for an America still blossoming over 100 years later. With overwhelming support from the Finance Committee, there is no reason the excise tax should not be brought to the floor and passed in the very near future. There is no reason a tax used to fund a war should outlive every veteran of that conflict: I urge you to vote for passage of H.R. 3916.


Paul Beckner