Spreading Your Investment And Savings Risks

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The world stock markets are going through quite a turbulent period at present and on average around ten percent has been wiped off some of the leading markets over the last month. In this article I write about how on a personal note I try to save in a series of different financial products which helps me to spread the risk, including when we have these stock market falls.

saving, financial, stock markets, high interest rates, spreading, risk, products, terrorist, regular

The world stock markets are going through quite a turbulent period at present and on average around ten percent has been wiped off some of the leading markets over the last month. In this article I write about how on a personal note I try to save in a series of different financial products which helps me to spread the risk, including when we have these stock market falls.

I started saving money on a regular basis about five years ago. At this stage the stock market in the UK had just had some dramatic falls after the terrorist attacks in New York. I wanted to build up a kind of rainy day fund and decided to invest monthly premiums into a unit trust. I started saving ?0 a month and over time I increased this figure.

I have to say that I have been very lucky as my investment has done very well, I have even over the last couple of years cashed in some of the units to pay for our family holidays. At the start of this year the stock market in the UK was showing its highest levels in five and a half years.

In the five years that I have been investing, I have bought and now own a large number of units in this unit trust fund. What it now means however, is that if the stock markets have a period just like the one it has had, it costs me financially on paper quite a lot of money.

I now believe that my exposure to the stock markets is high enough and have decided that I will leave the units that I have invested in the fund as they are, but that I will not be adding to them. Instead I am going to put my regular savings into one of the high interest regular savings online bank accounts. This of course is a way of spreading the risk.

I have no idea which way the world stock markets are going to go over the next few months. Many people are saying that the United States interest rates may rise and that this could have a damaging affect on world markets. There could well be another major terrorist attack which could of course result in dramatic stock market falls.

I am hoping that the stock markets will continue to rise in the same way that they have over the last five years and that the falls over the last few weeks are just a blip. I just think that I have enough money invested and would like to start building some form of other savings in a safer type of environment.

The Four Mandatory Buckets Of Personal Finance

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I have already written about the financial necessity of saving a portion of any income payment that you receive. This means that a percentage of every single source of income is set aside, marked, or tracked as money that you cannot spend. This task isn’t optional if you want to have some basic financial stability or start growing some serious wealth. Saving is the first step and it is the easiest, simplest, but the most emotionally difficult step. I know that starting to sav…

personal finance,debt,credit cards,wealth building,managing money,investing

I have already written about the financial necessity of saving a portion of any income payment that you receive. This means that a percentage of every single source of income is set aside, marked, or tracked as money that you cannot spend. This task isn’t optional if you want to have some basic financial stability or start growing some serious wealth. Saving is the first step and it is the easiest, simplest, but the most emotionally difficult step. I know that starting to save money is emotionally painful because spending money is easy and pleasurable, while saving money feels difficult and challenging. But like any behavior, it becomes easier and natural the more you do it.

As a review, the billionaire John Templeton started out working during the Great Depression but he saved 50% of his income. This guy was serious! OK, you may have a lot of fixed expenses that you just can’t cancel immediately, but at least enroll in financial nursery school by saving 1% from all the income that you receive. Or start with only $3 a month and then ratchet up your savings rate continually until you are at least over 10%; or if you are ambitious get it over 30%. (If you are trying to find the loophole, this savings is your after-tax income that you can spend ?don’t count your 401K or medical savings accounts or any other qualified money that you don’t have full/immediate access to spending).

The remainder of this article is about what to do with that savings. Economics is the study of allocating scarce resources. Personal economics are similar, but I think that it is better described as: The allocation of your income that you can’t spend. If you don’t spend this money, and maybe have it setting aside in savings account, what do you do with it? Do you pay down on a credit card, save it for a car, donate it to a worthy cause, or purchase a bank certificate of deposit? How do you go about deciding?

Well, I have given this some thought and have reached a few conclusions. It is my view that your monthly savings needs to be divided among four mandatory categories. By this, I mean that among the zillions of things you can do with savings, it is my view that four of them are absolutely mandatory. For example, if you earn a paycheck (and after all of the taxing authorities take their share) of $1,000 that you can deposit into your checking account and you’ve chosen a personal savings percentage rate of 8%, then you move $80 ($1,000 X .08) into a separate savings account. Now, you will take this $80 and divide it up into at least the four mandatory categories I am going to discuss, along with any other categories that you value. In this way you’ll have the whole $80 assigned to specific financial duties to meet your financial goals.

Here are the four categories in priority order:

1. The Vault ?this is your wealth account. Money gets deposited into this account and it never leaves, like a one-way valve. The Vault is invested and the principal is never spent. It will grow into the largest part of your net worth, generating nearly all of your investment income. If you don’t start creating wealth penny-by-penny, you’ll never have any.

2. Soft Savings ?a delayed spending account. This money is marked for things that you want to buy, but can’t afford to purchase with normal pocket money. For example, a house, car, boat, vacation, college fund for kids, planned medical care, clothing, jewelry, etc. But this also includes maintenance to your home, like a roof, new appliances, new siding, paint, landscaping, remodeling, etc.

3. Paydown Debt Balances ?making extra principal payments on your credit cards, car loans, and your mortgage. By chipping away at these expenses you will eventually eliminate them all, and then have more money available for other categories. Personal debt is the opposite of financial freedom and dramatically makes it more difficult to reach your financial goals. If you doubt this, look at the interest charges you pay each month and imagine if that money had been invested instead.

4. Financial Education ?books, magazines, newsletters, seminars, software, investment memberships. Also, hiring professional financial advisors, tax accountants, estate attorneys, etc. (Avoid free advice a buddy, your cousin, or a friend’s neighbor ?buy the best, most expensive professional advice you can afford).

As I mentioned before, you can put your savings into places that are only limited by your creativity. But it is my view that these four areas are so important that they need to be continually fed money in a systematic manner.

If you are missing the first account, The Vault, you’ll never have the money to start investing so you’ll never receive any investment income. This is pretty much the goal of all personal finance, to help you generate the most investment income. That is why this is the most important of the four categories, to get your money earning money so that you don’t have to. (I do not consider any retirement accounts or qualified accounts to be Vault money. This is because you do not have direct control to invest the money or receive any investment income until the government decides that you can).

If you are missing the second account, Soft Savings, you either can’t buy what you want, or you have to increase your personal debt. This is moving in the opposite direction of financial freedom ?you are reducing the amount of money that you can spend each month by the amount of the debt payment, and you are reducing your net worth by the principal and interest that you’ll be charged. Another symptom of a lack of Soft Savings is disrepair to your car, home, and health because you don’t have the money for upkeep. Everything physical needs to be maintained, from your teeth to your vacuum, and it costs money to do so. This depreciates the financial assets that you own, and puts at risk the most important quality of life ?your health.

If you are missing the third account, Paydown Debt Balances, you are simply going to be the patsy in the financial game of life. People that are building their wealth collect lots of little interest payments from the people that are destroying their wealth by making lots of little interest payments ?money is transferred every month from one group of people to the other. Which group do you want to be in? Well, your Vault can automatically put you into the group of wealth-builders and your Paydown Debt account starts to extract you from the group of wealth-destroyers. The Paydown Debt account puts you on track to permanently extinguish all of your personal debt. The sooner a personal debt is paid off, the more rapidly you can take all of this money and put it into the other categories.

If you are missing the fourth account, Financial Education, you won’t know how to captain your Vault, and you may run it straight into the rocks. Only you will manage your money in a manner that will be to your maximum benefit. So it is best if you pay to learn how to handle money and learn where to put it. But not everyone has an interest in these subjects, and that is fine. For them, instead of personally managing your money, you are going to personally manage your financial advisors. You’ll be spending money and time to hire and manage the advisors to attend to financial details.

By allocating your savings into these four categories you are addressing the four most important elements of financial management. You’ll be making certain that: Your investment income will always increase by adding to your Vault; you’ll have money available for extra expenses with your Soft Savings; your net worth will always be increasing with a Paydown Debt account; and you’ll intelligently learn how to lower your investment risk, raise your investment returns, and lower your tax liability with your Financial Education account. The only source of money to build these critical financial functions to increase your income, net worth, and stability is your savings ?you simply have to do it.

I recommend you fund these accounts simultaneously ?do not focus only on debt or only on education because I have seen how it is financially detrimental to do so. For example, let’s say that you really want to paydown your debt so you don’t contribute anything to The Vault. I have found that if you don’t have any investments, your investing skills will be under developed. You will not know how to invest once your debts have been paid off, you’ll have no investment income to manage, you won’t be looking for investing opportunities because that is something you can’t afford right now, etc. And as a result, it will be harder to get into the investing game later, you’ll have more to learn in a shorter amount of time, and may just avoid it altogether and put Vault money into a low paying account.

How much do you allocate among the four categories? Anything more that zero! It is up to you, and your financial situation will fluctuate and be different from others. Just to get some starting percentages, below is my allocation. It is not a recommendation for anyone, it is just what works for me right now.

My current savings rate = 20% of all after-tax income.

(This does not include 401K, medical savings accounts, or other deferred/qualified withholding). This means that 20% of all cash income that hits my checking account each month is set aside into these categories:

1. The Vault receives 50% of total savings each month.
2. Soft Savings receives 20% of savings each month.
3. Paydown Debt receives 20% of savings each month.
4. Financial Education receives 5% of savings each month.
5. And that leaves 5% for other categories each month.

You may receive continual, ongoing income, in addition to some rare, one-time inflows of money. The percentages detailed above are how I allocate regular income savings. But if there is any one-time inflow of money (garage sale, bonus, extra project), then I take 90% of the proceeds and split it among the four accounts, and the other 10% is just spent. You can create your own money rules for different types of income; you can tell by my allocation percentages that my primary focus is to build up the balance of the Vault.

The amount of money that you can save from every source of income is your key to a brighter financial future. Contrarily, a risky and dimmer financial future awaits those that refuse to systematically save money. So be sure that you take the steps necessary to set savings aside and then simultaneously divide it among the four mandatory accounts by consistently allocating money to them. You don’t have a financial foundation without these four accounts, but with them, you can build as high as your ambition takes you.

Why Prepare For Retirement?

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Time goes so fast that some people are caught unaware that life has caught up with them. These people have been very busy taking care of their families that they have forgotten how to prepare for their future especially when they become too old to work.

Every person should prepare for that time when they can just relax and enjoy the fruits of their labor. People who have spent their fruitful years working and supporting their families should be given a chance to lay back, …

retirement, finances

Time goes so fast that some people are caught unaware that life has caught up with them. These people have been very busy taking care of their families that they have forgotten how to prepare for their future especially when they become too old to work.

Every person should prepare for that time when they can just relax and enjoy the fruits of their labor. People who have spent their fruitful years working and supporting their families should be given a chance to lay back, do what they have long wanted to do and live life to the fullest without worrying about financial support.

Not everyone is given the opportunity to enjoy retirement without any worry about their finances. People who want to enjoy their retirement without all the worries should prepare for their retirement now, when they are still able to produce and to work hard.

The best time to prepare for retirement is when a person is still young enough to financially plan for that period in his life when he does not have to worry about work or earning more money. Every person should gift himself with a proper retirement package so that when that time comes, he will be able to go to places he wanted to visit before but did not have the time or resources. Or perhaps, do things that he was not able to do before because he was too busy fending for his family.

Planning for your own retirement should be treated the same way when planning to invest in a house or a car. Every person should set aside even a meager amount from his monthly earnings, to be saved and used for his retirement.

A retirement plan will mean you no longer have to worry whether you have a family to take care of you when you grow old. It means not having to get scared that your children may be so busy living their own lives they will place you in a home for the aged. Preparing for retirement means being secured in the knowledge that something is waiting for you, when you can no longer earn money the way you used to do.

Some people consider retirement as the best years of their life because during this time, they no longer have to worry about working hard and feeding their children. When retirement comes, it’s just you and your spouse and sometimes, the children who manage to take a break and visit you. For most people, retirement means being free form the hustle and bustle of the daily rat race called life.

Start planning for your retirement and look forward to a life worth living after you are out of the daily grind.

Credit Cards For Bad Credit – Might Be Helpful

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Credit cards for bad credit can be the first step in taking the needed steps to restore your credit to good health.

credit cards for bad credit

Applying for and getting credit cards for bad credit can actually end up being quite helpful to consumers if they are used correctly. The following are a couple of great reasons why getting a credit card especially for those with bad credit can be a wise idea.

Credit cards for bad credit can help people keep track of their spending habits. Most credit cards designed for consumers with not so healthy credit send detailed reports of what is being purchased with the credit card. This is really a fantastic way to find out exactly what you are spending your money on each month and then decide what can be cut out. More responsible spending habits are a great practice for consumers no matter what their credit history may be.

Credit cards for bad credit generally fall into two categories. The first is a credit card that has a maximum limit to the amount you can charge. For example a consumer with bad credit may be able to apply for a credit card with a $1000 limit. This can help the consumer from over spending and getting into a financial bind that they cannot get out of.

The second of the credit cards for bad credit is the secured credit card. These credit cards involve the consumer making a small deposit onto the credit card in order to use it. Some cards will increase your spending limit if good spending practices occur while others you can simply only spend what you put onto the card. Either way it is a great way to be responsible with your money and start rebuilding your credit.

These are just two of the great reasons as to why it is not a bad idea to look for a credit card tailored to those with bad credit. Credit cards for bad credit can be the first step in taking the needed steps to restore your credit to good health.

Reducing Your Telephone Costs

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Know what costs to reduce –Reducing costs is sometimes just a percentage game with a focus on the areas of main expenditure. A 25% saving on an ?0,000 telecoms bill is more important than working towards a 50% reduction on a ?,500 spend on vending machines.

mobile phones, video calls, friend, lower call rates, bt, watch, communication, telephone, services

Know what costs to reduce –Reducing costs is sometimes just a percentage game with a focus on the areas of main expenditure. A 25% saving on an ?0,000 telecoms bill is more important than working towards a 50% reduction on a ?,500 spend on vending machines.

Length of Contracts ?Signing a contract for 1-3 years is good for the telecoms company as reductions don’t have to be passed on and customers cannot benefit from moving to a lower cost provider. Also, if there is a 3-month notice period, who at your organisation will send out the letter to the telecoms company?

Know what you can achieve ?People are busy. Who will be responsible for reducing costs? It may be more efficient to hire an expert who works to a tight deadline and is motivated to deliver real results.

On-going monitoring ?Measure the future savings as initially, any new supplier knows that they must perform. The key is to check that after the ‘honeymoon period?prices do not creep up whilst service levels fall
Did you know that telephone costs can often be cut by as much as 40% – this is even where another telecoms company is being used.

Calls to Mobile ?Another major area with approx 62 million mobiles currently in use in the UK. These cannot be avoided and often account for over 50% of the monthly call spend. However, rates are falling – in October 2004 there was an OFCOM imposed tariff reduction and there will be more in the future. Competition is also causing telecoms providers to cut their margins.

Minimum Call Charges and Rounding – Take an example where the headline rate for a local call is 1.5p per minute. Now with a 1p minimum call charge a 20 second call will cost 1p or double the advertised rate. If calls are rounded up to the nearest minute the cost will be 300% more than expected. In addition, 30% of business calls are below 30 seconds and nearly all business calls are under 2 minutes. What impact are these two areas going to have on your telephone bill?

Capped Calls ?Another minefield. With most business calls of less than 2 minutes duration, these calls would be considerably more expensive on a capped call tariff. Some major providers have a 7p call set-up charge for calls to mobiles plus a per minute rate of 10p. So therefore a 1 minute call on this capped call tariff would cost 17p or a 30 second call would cost 12p, considerably more than they would cost on a standard per minute tariff. 90% of businesses on capped calls tariffs are paying much more than they should be paying.

Line Rental ?This can now be easily reduced by between 10% – 25%
Calls to expensive 0870 numbers ?Sometimes inevitable but there are numerous ways with which you can reduce this unnecessary expense.

1. Ask the company for their ordinary local number in case you need to call them from abroad.

2. Look at your phone when they call you. If you have caller display, their real number might show up.

3. Look up their number in BT’s online directory enquiries or on their web site or on 192.com. Their real number might just be listed.

4. Go to saynoto0870.com An excellent site listing many company’s alternative numbers.

When Debt Collectors Cross the Line ?Bogus Threats & Illegal Collection Tactics

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Discusses common threats and tactics used by debt collectors in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Encourages consumers to take action against collection harassment by filing formal complaints with state Attorneys General or the Federal Trade Commission.

collection agencies, debt collectors, FDCPA, FTC

If you are behind on your bills and on the receiving end of collection phone calls, you will probably hear collectors make some very threatening statements. While most debt collection professionals try to stay within the boundaries defined by the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), many others cross the line on a regular basis. In 2004, the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov) received more than 58,000 complaints about debt collectors, a figure which represents 17% of the total number of complaints received all year. Consumers complain about the collection industry more than most other industries combined.

Collection professionals would probably respond that the enormous size of the industry and the sheer volume of collection activity accounts for the large number of complaints. However, only a small percentage of violations are actually reported by consumers, so the data collected by the FTC represents only a tiny fraction of the true scope of the problem. Even so, a pattern of abusive and illegal collection activity has been well documented by the FTC, and it is getting worse instead of better.

Here are some common threats made by debt collectors:

“We’re going to take your house unless you pay this bill immediately.” This is a bogus threat. Unless the debt being collected is secured by the house in question (i.e., a mortgage or home equity loan), the creditor does not have the power to take your house away from you.

“If you don’t pay this bill today, we’re going to have a warrant issued for your arrest.” Nonsense. Failure to pay a debt is a civil matter, not a criminal matter. Threatening a debtor with jail time or accusing them of committing a crime is totally against the rules.

“We don’t care that you sent a cease communication notice. We’re going to call you anyway.” The FDCPA gives you the right to terminate contact efforts by a debt collector. Failure to respect a cease communication notice is a clear violation of Federal law.

“We’re going to garnish your wages to recover this debt.” A collector can only threaten action it has the legal authority to take, and the vast majority of collection agencies have zero legal authority. Your wages can only be garnished by a creditor after they have won a judgment against you in a lawsuit.

“We know where you live, so you better pay up.” Yes, threats of violence still happen in this industry. Nearly 300 complaints against collectors received by the FTC last year cited the threat of violence as the cause of the complaint. This is absolutely illegal.

Aside from the usual bogus threats, collectors also use other tactics that are illegal. For example, discussing your debt with a third party is a clear violation of the FDCPA. Yet collectors routinely call neighbors, relatives, and employers to obtain information on debtors. So long as the collector does not discuss the actual matter of the debt, they still have their toes on the right side of the line. But as soon as they mention or even hint that they are calling about a debt, they have crossed the line.

Since many debtors have taken to screening their phone calls at home to cut down on the relentless barrage, debt collectors frequently call them at work (when they can obtain the number). In theory, a consumer can get the collector to stop calling their workplace simply by stating that they are not allowed to receive personal phone calls at work. That puts the collector on notice that such activity constitutes interference with the consumer’s employment, which is not permitted. In practice, however, collectors routinely ignore this rule and continue to call at work.

There are many other techniques of harassment and intimidation that cross the line from permissible to impermissible collection activity. Use of obscene or profane language, shouting, constant and unrelenting telephone calls, failure to respond to written disputes, and publication of debtor information all constitute illegal activity as defined by the FDCPA.

So if you are on the receiving end of illegal collection actions, what can you do to protect yourself? First and foremost, it’s important to know and understand your rights as a consumer. A description of your rights under The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act may be obtained directly from the FTC (http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/fdc.htm).

If you believe that a collector has violated your rights in their attempt to collect from you, then you should not hesitate to file formal complaints with the Attorney General for your state (www.naag.org) as well as the Federal Trade Commission. If enough complaints are received about a particular collector, then these authorities are empowered to bring an enforcement action against them, which may result in expensive fines that will make the agency or collector think twice about using such tactics in the future. You also have the right to bring a lawsuit yourself against a collector that harasses or abuses you, or otherwise violates your rights under the law.

One final point. The FDCPA technically only applies to third-party debt collectors, which includes collection agencies and collection attorneys. It does not apply to the original creditor when collecting their own debt. For example, if you borrow money from a bank, the bank is not regulated by the FDCPA. However, numerous other public laws protect consumers from deceptive or abusive collection practices even by original creditors, and many states also have laws that parallel the FDCPA but go further and include original creditors in the definition of debt collector. So if an original creditor is harassing you or has crossed the line, you should still file a complaint with your state’s Attorney General as well as the FTC. If a clear pattern of abuse emerges, the original creditor can be charged with unfair or deceptive acts or practices, either under state law or under the FTC Act that governs conduct of commerce in our country.

To sum up, if you are on the receiving end of collection harassment, don’t just take it. Educate yourself on your rights as a consumer, vigorously dispute debts that you don’t believe you owe, and take action yourself in the form of complaints to your Attorney General and the Federal Trade Commission. By standing up for your rights, you can put a stop to bogus threats and illegal collection tactics.

Top 10 Ways to Cut Spending

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Do you run out of money before you run out of month? Do you wonder where your money goes each month? Do you struggle to find money to invest for retirement, emergencies and other financial goals? Here are 10 tips to cut your spending and stretch your dollar to the max:

Cash flow planning, budgeting, financial planning, retirement planning, investments, taxes

Do you run out of money before you run out of month? Do you wonder where your money goes each month? Do you struggle to find money to invest for retirement, emergencies and other financial goals? Here are 10 tips to cut your spending and stretch your dollar to the max:

1. Consider dropping your home telephone line. Your cell phone is probably all you really need, and most likely it has free long distance. You could save $30 or more per month by dropping your “land line?

2. Cut back on trips to Starbucks or other premium coffee shops. Often called the “latte factor? spending several dollars per day on luxuries like premium coffee can really add up. For example, if you spend $4 for a cappuccino five times a week for 50 weeks out of the year (you’re on vacation the other two weeks), you would spend $1,000 in a year. Try treating your trip to Starbucks as a treat instead of a habit. You’ll save money and probably lose weight too!

3. Pay your mortgage payment bi-weekly instead of monthly. You’ll pay less interest and pay off your mortgage faster.

4. Carry cash instead of credit cards. Psychologically it’s harder to spend cash than it is to use the credit card. You’ll spend less and save on interest charges.

5. Use the “envelope system?for groceries, dining out, entertainment, and other discretionary spending categories. This will help you track how much you spend in these categories as well as prioritizing your spending.

6. Raise the deductible on your homeowners and auto insurance policies. It’s not wise to file claims for small losses anyway (insurance companies love to raise rates after you file a claim), so a higher deductible will save you money now and in the future.

7. Buy regular gas instead of premium. Most cars don’t need premium gasoline. Also, take public transportation if it’s available in your area. Take advantage of “park and ride?and carpooling options.

8. Plan your purchases to avoid impulse buying. Take a list with you to the grocery store and stick with it. Studies show that impulse buying can add $10-50 to your grocery bill ?ouch!

9. Go to the library instead of the bookstore. If you’re an avid reader, give yourself a book budget for books that you will want to keep, and go to the library for everything else.

10. Take a vacation at home. Check out all the local sites and happenings. You’ll rediscover your hometown and save on travel and hotel costs.

These are just a handful of ways you can cut spending and stretch your dollars, but if you follow these tips you’ll discover you have more money at the end of each month to apply to other financial goals, such as saving for college, retirement or just for a rainy day.

The IRS Owes You Money If You Have Paid Long Distance Phone Taxes

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The IRS has decided to give up the fight on an ongoing legal issue regarding taxes it has collected on long distance telephone services. Here is the scoop.

telephone, long distance, services, tax, taxes, irs, refund, tax credit, 1040, phone

The IRS has decided to give up the fight on an ongoing legal issue regarding taxes it has collected on long distance telephone services. Here is the scoop.

The IRS Owes You Money If You Have Paid Long Distance Phone Taxes

Every one of us pays for some form of long distance telephone service. The more you use the service, the more you start hunting for better rates. Whatever choice you make, however, you are always stuck paying a federal tax on the bill. For those of you with large long distance phone bills, this tax can add up quickly given the fact it is calculated at three percent of your total bill.

The tax in question is known as the federal excise tax on long distance telephone service. It was created in 1898. Yes, this tax arose well over one hundred years ago. As you might image, a few people started to wonder how a tax established in 1898 could possibly apply today, particularly given the advancement of telephone technologies. Turns out it doesn’t apply! Given a chance to review the situation, five appellate courts have ruled the tax invalid.

After contemplating the situation, the IRS has decided not to challenge the legal rulings. Instead, it has voluntarily agreed to issue credits or refunds for the excise taxes paid the past three years. Specifically, you will be able to claim a refund of all taxes paid from February 28, 2003 till the date the IRS stopped collecting them.

To collect the refunds, the IRS will create a new box on all 1040 filing forms for the 2006 tax year. In practical terms, this means you will be able to check a box and get a refund when you prepare your 2006 tax return in 2007. The IRS will pay interest on these funds.

It should be noted the refund is applicable only to the long distance excise tax. You still must pay local service taxes and the refund does not apply to taxes collected by states and such. Still, any refund is a good refund in my opinion.