Everybody's favorite website, IRS.gov, has a series of webpages on Understanding Taxes for students. Under the subject, the WHYS of TAXES, Theme 5: Impact of Taxes, Lesson 1: How Taxes Influence Behavior, there is an historical tax question on the first time telephones were taxed. The question is phrased as follows:
Which of the following items was first taxed as a luxury in 1898, at the start of the Spanish-American War and continues to be taxed today?
A. The phonograh
B. The telephone
C. The automobile
D. The radio
The answer is B, the telephone.
IRS.gov webpage screen capture
I don't exactly know how these taxes were paid, but AT&T used many high value documentaries:
We all continue to pay telephone taxes with roots in the 1898 law. It is hard to imagine today that phones could ever be considered a luxury, though their ubiquity has certainly taken their everyday use beyond essential. Sexting is somewhere in the luxury, if not vice, category. I don't know the law, but I wonder when, for tax purposes, the telephone tax ceased to be considered a luxury tax.