LOS ANGELES, CA – Good news for Californians. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) will not move forward with its plan to tax text messages. The proposal had angered many Californians.
The state proposed the tax onto wireless bills. The funding would have gone to Public Purpose Programs. These programs let low-income individuals and families access a phone.
Californians, said one article, did not LOL about the proposal. Jonathan Manor of San Luis Obispo complained, “They’re going to tax us for breathing next.” Other residents said that Californians already face so many taxes that the addition of the text tax would be “crazy.” Many argued that texting is a form of speech, and speech is not taxable.
Regulators had scheduled a vote on the measure for January 10, 2019. However, on Wednesday, December 12th, the FCC issued a declaratory ruling against the measure. The FCC ruled that text messages are an “informative service” and not a “telecommunication service”. This ruling comes under the Federal Telecommunications Act, and more importantly, this means that California cannot charge for texting.
After this ruling, in light of the FCC’s action, assigned Commissioner Carla J. Peterman withdrew the draft proposal of the text messaging tax plan. No vote will take place in January after all.
Before this FCC ruling, no federal law classified text messages. The CPUC believed that telecommunication services could be taxed, and the tax could be used to support several CPUC public programs.
Tax Would Have Helped Low-Income Residents
The programs were designed to help low-income residents by offering discounted services for either a cell phone or a landline. Many residents who can’t afford phone communication find it difficult to find work, argued proponents of the proposal. But residents opposed to the measure argued back that they should not be on the hook for someone else’s phone bill.