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California Reveals Plans To Tax Citizens For Text Messages

It's a well-known fact that so many people text instead of call these days. It's faster, more convenient, and easier to consume when you're going about your day-t0-day life. One group of people who've picked up on this are regulators within the state of California, who have an idea as to how to capitalize on it.

As reported by CNN this past Thursday, the California Public Utilities Commission (or CPUC) has proposed a new surcharge where citizens in the state would be taxed based on text messages. The 52-page proposal from CPUC Commissioner Carla J. Peterman explains that this would be a monthly fee based on a person's cellular bill. That bill would include any and all fees for text message services. However, depending on your carrier, its structure could change.

According to Peterman, this proposal was submitted in response to California's Public Purpose Program budget continuing to increase. But the fees coming in to fill it have decreased thus creating a budget gap of sorts. The surcharge rate is about 7 percent, so increasing it may help this budget gap shrink or disappear altogether.

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via Healthline

Unfortunately for the Peterman and the CPUC, the proposal has already had a wrench thrown into it because of a new ruling from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), who filed text messages as an "information service". While there's some support due to the idea that carriers can crack down on spam messages, more criticism has come up in regards to carriers having the potential to censor people's messages.

In addition, industry groups such as CTIA (a group who represents AT&T Mobility, Sprint, and T-Mobile) have voiced strong disapproval to this proposal. The CTIA, specifically, has argued that the CPUC doesn't possess any authority over text messages and that their proposal breaks federal law. It also doesn't help that other messaging platforms like Skype and WhatsApp wouldn't be affected by this proposal. The CTIA argues that because of this, more people will switch to different messaging apps to avoid being taxed for sending text messages.

The CPUC is set to vote on this proposal on Jan. 10, 2019. Until then, the group could very well change the draft beforehand. It will be very interesting to see if the CPUC stands by their proposal, or if they change it in an attempt to make it more popular.

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