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THE STONE-A-PHONE TAX

August 06, 2008

News reports say that the IRS is enforcing the widely-ignored rules governing employee cell phones. The rules, which date back to the days when cell phones were a luxury good, require records for employee cell phones like those required for company cars.

This is one of the (many) cases where technical change has left Congress far behind, though TaxGirl reports that Congress is scrambling to repeal the cell phone rules.

A repeal would be a good thing, but the whole controversy provides a useful lesson in the clumsiness of legislation. Any time Congress or the state legislature reacts to a new technology or an economic event, it's very likely that their work will still be causing problems long after technical change and time have made their original assumptions sadly obsolete.

Still, at least this gives me an excuse to post a picture of the original Roth & Company car phone from 1991, alongside my only somewhat out-of-date Treo 650.

20080806-1.jpg


The old stone-a-phone is shown on top of its enormous recharger-brick and alongside its stylish carrying bag and antenna.

The TaxProf has more.

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And some spaceage coffee!

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