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Do You Support Taxing Text Messages to Fund Public Services?

by Countable | Updated on 12.14.18

What’s the story?

  • California is considering a tax on text messages to raise funds for programs that help fund access to telecommunications services for lower-income California residents.
  • The new surcharge, proposed by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), would be levied as a monthly fee based on a cell phone bill that includes fees for text-messaging. CPUC said it’s necessary to make up for the lost revenue the state used to receive from a tax on voice calls.

Where would the money go?

  • CPUC said the surcharges would be “used to support public programs like 911 service; the CPUC’s LifeLine program, which subsidizes phone rates for low income consumers; and the Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program, which provides special equipment for the deaf and hard-of hearing.”

What are both sides saying?

  • The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) - which represents the wireless industry - told California’s KCRA 3 that they “hope that the CPUC recognizes that taxing text messages is bad for consumers.”
  • “Consumers exchanged 1.77 trillion messages in 2017, making text messages one of the most common and effective means of communication for Americans,” said Jamie Hastings, CTIA’s senior vice president of external affairs.
“Taxing this service would burden those who rely on and use this service each and every day.”
  • But CPUC said the money needs to come from somewhere, and “the charge may even out, because if more surcharge revenue comes from texting services, less would need to come from voice services.”
"If texting surcharge revenues are not collected to support those programs more would need to come from voice services. The surcharge rate is less than 7 percent currently, so for every $10 of text revenues, it would cost about 70 cents."

What do you think?

Do you support taxing text messages to add money to the Public Purpose Program? Take action above, then share your thoughts below. 

—Josh Herman

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / chaluk)

Countable

Written by Countable

Leave a comment
(396)
  • Jonas
    Voted No
    12/14/2018
    ···

    Did you honestly expect anyone to support this? This is stupid and an infringement on free speech.

    Like (41)
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  • Lisa
    12/14/2018
    ···

    Taxing text messages would be incredibly unfair! We are already paying through the nose for our cellular service. Text message is the only way we can communicate with family without using data or interrupting with a call. We Are already paying an exorbitant price for this service.

    Like (37)
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  • Andrea
    Voted Maybe
    12/14/2018
    ···

    I believe there’s a better way. I’m more on the side of no. California’s already got the cannibus trade bringing in big tax &&.

    Like (16)
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  • Boinael
    Voted Yes
    12/14/2018
    ···

    I think it depends on how much the charge would be. There's a big difference between 1 cent and 1 dollar a month.

    Like (9)
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  • burrkitty
    Voted No
    12/14/2018
    ···

    I already pay a damn cellphone bill with a number of ridiculous fees. No freaking way!!

    Like (35)
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  • Jared
    12/14/2018
    ···

    No! Stop with the bs taxes. We need federal accountability and defense spending reductions immediately. The money we spend in the name of “National Defense” is outrageous considering that we are simply funding wars in third world countries through dictatorships and rebel forces to over throw governments we disagree with. While Soldiers, Airmen and Seamen are being used as a cover for civilian contractors to replace our “war fighters” and privatize wars. The American people do not need to pony up for more spending, the federal government needs to get the budget in order and now before people decide to start fighting back.

    Like (16)
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  • George
    Voted Yes
    12/15/2018
    ···

    YES let California become the commie, socialist illegal state it is attempting to be. The people will eventually revolt and overthrow all of the commie politicians there!

    Like (5)
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  • Sharon
    Voted Maybe
    12/17/2018
    ···

    I would not mind such a use tax IF all of the other telecom use taxes were eliminated. That means telephone, cable TV, and wireless service. All too often taxes are just piled onto other nuisance taxes. Furthermore, the tax money must earmarked to offset federal mandates piled onto States.

    Like (2)
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  • Alex
    Voted No
    12/14/2018
    ···

    Just insane. No. Cell phone companies already “tax” their customers for their text messages via charging for data.

    Like (20)
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  • Ellen
    Voted No
    12/14/2018
    ···

    What are you going to tax next? Air guitar? Grocery bags? Get the rich to pay their fair share and there does not need to be any new taxes! Stop stupid pet projects like #45’s wall.

    Like (19)
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  • Mark
    Voted No
    12/15/2018
    ···

    Next government will want to tax your very thoughts.

    Like (18)
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  • Jake
    Voted No
    12/14/2018
    ···

    Cell phones are a luxury, not a commodity/public good. Those who cannot afford cell phones should not be able to purchase one altogether. Nevertheless, make loyal, taxpaying Americans have to pay for those who cannot afford cell phones. To conclude, no taxation should be addressed upon text messaging. It would be a train wreck to attempt to tax SMS messages as they would interfere with the network carrier’s rates and income.

    Like (12)
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  • Robert
    Voted No
    12/14/2018
    ···

    If you tax text messages you will have a revolt on your hands. No way!

    Like (11)
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  • SneakyPete
    Voted No
    12/14/2018
    ···

    ‘“Ellen” FYI: this is a California DEMOCRATIC administration, not President Trump, who’s considering the proposal of taxing on text messages.

    Like (10)
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  • Seth
    Voted No
    12/14/2018
    ···

    Holy crap, no. Taxes are a deterrent, and the decision of what to tax is therefore a political choice to affect behavior toward those that have societal benefit. Tax fossil fuels if you want to curb usage; tax imports if you want people to buy locally. Text messaging should not be taxed. Find something actually worth slowing or stopping, and tax that.

    Like (10)
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  • ManfromNebraska
    Voted No
    12/14/2018
    ···

    Come on, what next taxing breathing?

    Like (9)
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  • I.Got.an.Idea...
    Voted No
    12/14/2018
    ···

    I did not even review this Bill, and I believe some taxes are necessary and appropriate, but not texting. Maybe you tax a monthly phone bill by 2 cents a month, to help pay for a communications program. No one will ever see an additional 2 cents. That’s my 2-cents for ya.....

    Like (8)
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  • Gopin2018
    Voted No
    12/14/2018
    ···

    No I don’t support this. We all know that the revenue collected won’t go where it’s supposed to, Congress would divert it to other uses. #MAGA

    Like (8)
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  • Gage
    Voted No
    12/14/2018
    ···

    Only Cali could be this stupid

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  • Brooke
    Voted No
    12/14/2018
    ···

    Absolutely not have you lost your minds?! We already pay over $500 a month just for cell phone service for our family!! The LAST thing we need is to have to pay more!! The working class people can’t AFFORD any more!!

    Like (7)
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  • Gardiner
    Voted No
    12/15/2018
    ···

    The state is saying it needs the money for devices that allow deaf people to use the telephone... a nearly obsolete piece of tech. Someone who is deaf is able to text just like someone with full hearing. One could argue a tax on texting unfairly discriminates against the deaf as they are more dependent on this form of communication.

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  • Brian
    Voted No
    12/14/2018
    ···

    I would expect California to come up with something like this. We pay a designated amount for a service. That's it. Next thing you know they are going to require a certain amount of texts per month.

    Like (6)
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