California Government May Implement Tax for Text Messaging

By Nitish Singh / December 13, 2018

If you are a resident of California, then you may soon need to pay taxes for sending text messages. A new legislation has been proposed that is similar to one that was in place since the landline-era. The text messaging legislation is being considered by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) in a bid to support low earners.

The original landline legislation in California dates back to the 90s when the federal government introduced Public Purpose Programs. All landline users had to pay taxes to support low earners. The legislation was implemented for not only phone calls but also other basic utilities. With the internet and cellphones making landlines mostly defunct, the existing legislation is being shaped for modern times.

With people in California not using landlines as much as they used to, the government wants to continue generating funds for its Public Purpose Programs by taxing cell phone users who text. The rule has been approved by the FCC, and it may raise up to $44.5 million every year. The move will account for SMS messaging only and not online services.

The amount of taxes that need to be paid will vary across carriers, but people from California are not particularly pleased with the decision. There will be a vote on the measure scheduled for January 10, 2019, but the move is already facing opposition. Even though landlines are used a lot less, the funding for the PPP programs has increased by 50%.

The California government is yet to consider how online services like WhatsApp and Messenger fit into its decision. With such apps account for most of the online messaging traffic. A flat fee tax could be implemented, or online services may not be chargeable at all. Network carriers are not happy with the move as it may push mobile users away from text messaging permanently.

What do you think about the implementation of texting tax in California? Let us know in the comments below. Also, get instant updates on TechNadu’s Facebook page, or Twitter handle.

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