California Backtracks on Plan to Tax Text Messages

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CBS

The state of California has abandoned its plan to begin taxing text messages in January, which would have allegedly been used to fund cell phone access for the poor.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) had planned to tax text messaging in order to subsidize cell phone access for the poor, but announced on Friday that the scheme has been ditched due to a ruling made by the FCC.

According to the CPUC, the FCC had ruled that text messaging is an information service, rather than a telecommunications service, which made it no longer subject to a surcharge under California law.

Due to the FCC’s decision to classify text messaging as an information service, Commissioner Carla J. Peterman has withdrawn from the CPUC’s January meeting to vote on the text messaging tax.

The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) added that the tax proposal would create inequity “between wireless carriers and other providers of messaging services,” such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, iMessage, and Skype.

“Subjecting wireless carriers’ text messaging traffic to surcharges that cannot be applied to the lion’s share of messaging traffic and messaging providers is illogical, anticompetitive, and harmful to consumers,” stated the CTIA in a legal filing.

Below are some of the reactions on Twitter regarding California’s proposed text tax.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Twitter at @ARmastrangelo and on Instagram.

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