California Debating Tax On Text Messages

Joe Simonson | Media Reporter

California regulators are currently contemplating whether residents would have to pay a fee on text messages from their cell phones.

The proposed tax would help fund programs in the state that provides low-income Californians with phone service and will be discussed further during the January 2019 meeting by the California Public Utilities Commission. (RELATED: OPINION: Thanks To Unions, California’s Finances Are Collapsing)

California Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom hugs his wife Jennifer as he celebrates being elected governor of the state during an election night party in Los Angeles, California, U.S. November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake - RC1C6303E620

California Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom hugs his wife Jennifer as he celebrates being elected governor of the state during an election night party in Los Angeles, California, U.S. November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake.

The rational from California regulators is this: Text messaging uses the same cell towers as phone calls yet do not face similar fees — particularly in era where voice calls have dropped precipitously over the last number of years.

A number of business groups are already criticizing the bill, saying that Californians could start seeing taxes of over $44 million annually. Other wireless carriers, like Apple, might be immune from the charges because of apps like iMessage.

The exact amount of the fee has not yet been decided.

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