Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Telephone Tax: Hand Delivered Messages

On Monday I wrote about an IRS webpage that referred to the telephone tax that was begun under the 1898 war tax act.  Over email, Bob Patetta and I have speculated about how this tax was paid.  I have guessed that in the case of the $50 revenue stamp highlighted in Monday's post that companies like AT&T would bill large users like big corporations for the tax and then bundle and pay the tax the government themselves, in which the case the use of the large documentaries makes sense.

Bob sent me scans of two instances where the tax was paid for a single telephone call.  In these examples, the telephone call was made to an operator on the receiving end who then wrote a message on paper and delivered the message to someone who did not have their own phone.  In 1899 most people did not have phones, and this was likely a common way to transmit phone messages.

Bob speculates that the one cent telephone tax was more often charged on an individual transaction basis in smaller markets.

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