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Cellphone "federal excise tax" dates back to the Spanish-American War

Evan Blass

With all this fussin' and fightin' over the billions of dollars spent for the war in Iraq, it's surprising that there's not more of an uproar over a tax that we still pay to support a war that ended over a hundred years ago. The Ohio News Network out of Columbus is reporting that the 3% "federal excise tax" that we pay each month on our cellphone bills originated as a luxury tax on phones to fund the 1898 Spanish-American War. While none of us were around then to confirm this, we're pretty sure that there were very few cellphones being produced around the turn of the century, so the income they'd generate from a usage tax would seen to be negligible. No one is quite sure where this tax money goes today, which is why both carriers and some lawmakers support a repeal of the antiquated tithing, although another option being toyed with is to reroute the funds towards another war machine and show Spain that we can really hold a grudge.

[Via textually]

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