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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Ohio Consumer Counsel's Good News: Free Money

COLUMBUS (TDB) -- Ohio Consumer's Counsel Janine Migden-Ostrander has put out an "alert" that should gladden the hearts of everyone with a telephone in their home. Uncle Sam will give them up to $60, no questions asked. The IRS is making the one-time offer this year.

"As Ohioans receive their 2006 payroll statements and other financial information, they need to know about the one-time refund when filing their federal income tax forms. Many consumers have tight budgets and this is an opportunity to receive up to $60 from the federal government," Migden-Ostrander said.

She said the refunds apply to all types of phone service -- traditional, cellular or Internet-based such as VOIP.

She added that consumers won't need any documentation that they paid a federal long-distance excise tax that was eliminated last May. The tax went on the books in 1898 to finance the Spanish-American War. Migden-Ostrander said the automatic refund is $30 for a tax return claiming one exemption, $40 for two, $50 for three, and $60 for four. She said a married couple with two children, for example, automatically get the $60 by filling out a line on their federal tax return. There is a more complex process for calculating exactly how much was paid in excise taxes, and getting an exact refund, but the automatic deduction looks like a good deal.

Her "alert" is available HERE with all the details, including how to go beyond the automatic refunds offered by the IRS. The consumer counsel's office is a state agency that represents about 4.5 million households in rate hearing proceedings before state and federal utility regulators. It also can challenge regulatory rulings in the courts.

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