The proposal, in part is due to legislation in the landline-era together with the fact that people have been shifting habit patterns away from voice calling and in favor of texting.
California is trying to determine if user fees and surcharges for text messages comply with its Public Purpose Programs. These programs use tax revenue to make telecommunications services available and accessible to residents who are low-income. These programs date back to the 1930’s, and had a face-lift during the late 1990’s. This allowed individual states to impose preservation requirements and what is referred to as a “universal service.”
When the rise of the internet happened, the telecommunications industry was able to evade such taxes by offering “information services” such as web browsing and email.
Although, as mobile phone users changed their behavior away from making calls on the phone, voice call revenue for these state ran programs dropped around one third, from $16.5 billion during 2011 to $11.3 billion in the year 2017, states law filings.
Wireless industries argue that these added fees would place carriers at higher disadvantages because messaging services like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Apple’s iMessage won’t be charges under the legislation being proposed.
A trade organization that represents the U.S. wireless communications industry, The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, states in legal filings to the California commission that it has repeatedly shown demonstrations that text messaging is in fact, an information service.
“Subjecting wireless carriers’ text messaging traffic to surcharges that cannot be applied to the lion’s share of messaging traffic and messaging providers is illogical, anticompetitive and harmful to consumers,” states CTIA in these filings.
State regulations are not schedules for a vote on this proposal until next month, but wireless customers have stormed social media to show their concerns about this bill.
UPDATE: Text Message Tax in California has been cancelled! https://theaegisalliance.com/2018/12/16/california-text-tax-cancelled/
Of course California wants to tax your text messages. They would tax your toilet use if they could. https://t.co/PIUuiwe2X6
— chris larson (@myblueheavenn) December 12, 2018
OMG! Now a California proposal wants to tax text-messaging, retroactive for 5 years.
— Kirk M. Oliver (@Kmoliverio1) December 12, 2018
Kyle James Lee – The AEGIS Alliance – This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.