Fri. Jun 21st, 2024

By Donna Westfall – December 15, 2018 –

While I’m overdue for writing about personal responsibility, accountability, growing up and being an adult, something has come up that needs our immediate attention. In California, I don’t believe our Democratic legislators think we’re taxed enough.  The latest in creative taxes is one by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and that’s to TAX TEXTING which is a California agency and therefore taxpayer/ratepayer supported. 

Just so you know about the CPUC.  The CPUC regulates services and utilities, protects consumers, safeguards the environment, and assures Californians’ access to safe and reliable utility infrastructure and services. They have 5 commissioners appointed by the Governor.  So that means, similar to our 41st District Fairgrounds Board, the appointees are all Democrats.  Sound fair?   Didn’t think so.

Let’s enumerate exactly what they regulate taken from their website:  “Pivately owned electric, natural gas, telecommunications, water, railroad, rail transit, and passenger transportation companies, in addition to authorizing video franchises. Our five Governor-appointed Commissioners, as well as our staff, are dedicated to ensuring that consumers have safe, reliable utility service at reasonable rates, protecting against fraud, and promoting the health of California’s economy”.

Why would a text tax proposal happen now?

Because they say they need it in order to use the tax to help fund access to mobile phone services for lower-income California residents, making up for lost revenue the state used to receive from a tax on voice messaging calls.  Make sense?

Let’s look at the money involved.  In 2011, $670 million was the budget for subsidizing poorer users. But in 2017 it rose to $998 million.

Part of the problem, as the CPUC puts it, is that people don’t use voice messages as much.  Texting has increased exponentially. They used to receive more money on voice messaging.  They don’t receive any money on texting.

What are the odds that texting will be taxed?  At the moment, not good because there’s something called “information services.” According to USA Today, David Brown’s article published December 12, 2018, “The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, a trade organization that represents the U.S. wireless communications industry, said in legal filings to the California commission that it has “repeatedly” demonstrated that text messaging is, in fact, an information service.”

However, if you want to voice your concern , you better do it right away because the CPUC expects to make a decision in January!  Here’s why you may want to speak up.  The CPUC wants to make the Text Tax RETROACTIVE for FIVE YEARS.  Incredible, isn’t it?

How to contact the CPUC:

San Francisco Office (HQ)

505 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102
(corner of Van Ness & McAllister)

PH: 415.703.2782
FAX: 415.703.1758
800.848.5580 (Toll Free)

I wonder if either of their phone numbers accept texts?



3 thoughts on “For every problem there is a new tax to be invented. The TEXT TAX – Retroactive for 5 years”
  1. In Feb of 2015, the FCC declared Broadband internet service as a Public Utility.

    They kind of shot themselves in the foot, legally speaking, because the definition of “broadband” is pretty clear. A month before the ruling, the FCC declared that “broadband” is 25Mpbs, up from 4Mpbs.

    Text messaging itself is usually based on the SMS protocol for mobile carriers but it’s often seen in the form of XMPP and now the new RCS protocol. No matter which protocol we’re talking about, they all sit on top of one of the layers that make up our communications infrastructure.

    I see this as another step towards taxing all communications since they have not declared what “Text messaging” really is. The HTTP and Websocket protocols are used for letting people browse the web. They are also primarily text based messaging protocols and are two-way just like SMS, RCS and XMPP.

    Taxing a protocol should not be allowed for any reason. Taxing the underlying internet usage was already done. Soon they will be taxing by the number of words we say, effectively taxing our freedom of speech.

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