The State of California may begin taxing text messages if a new proposal from state regulators is approved.
The San Jose Mercury News Mercury News reports that the California Public Utilities Commission is scheduled to vote on the proposal to add a surcharge to text messages next month.
The surcharge would reportedly be used to fund services to provide cell phone access to the poor — just as surcharges on land lines once did, Fortune magazine notes. As phone calls have declined, so have revenues.
Fortune adds (original link):
So California’s PUC is exploring its options and, as texts share infrastructure with voice calls — even if the medium is different — it estimates it could raise $44.5 million a year with the change. Applied retroactively it could amount to a bill of more than $220 million for California consumers.
In response, the telecoms industry is filing complaints arguing that texting is an email-like “information service” and should be exempt from PPP.
The Federal Communications Commission is considering the issue on Wednesday. But Fortune notes that the tax may arrive too late to make a difference, as smartphone users are increasingly turning to services like WhatsApp and Snapchat as an alternative to text messages.
Californians are already struggling to deal with higher gas taxes, passed last year and upheld by a referendum last month in which the state’s Democrats allegedly manipulated the title of the ballot initiative to confuse voters. The measure, which would have repealed the new gas tax, the state told voters that Proposition 6 “Eliminates Certain Road Repair and Transportation Funding” rather than “Repeals Gas Tax.”
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.