OMG! California Considering 'Text' Tax

California considering text tax

OMG! WTF California? R u ins8n? 

Residents in California might see their next group text become a little more expensive if state regulators get their way. 

According to a report from the Mercury News, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is considering a plan that would add a tax to all text messages sent in California to provide revenue for programs that make it easier for low-income residents to get a phone line.

The fee is nothing new - Californians already pay a portion of their phone bill to pay for such programs, but, according to a report from the commission, the budget for the Public Purpose Program has climbed from $670 million in 2011 to $998 million in 2017. Revenues that fund those programs on the other hand, has fallen over the years, from $16.5 billion in 2011, to $11.3 billion last year, the report said. 

That's created an "unsustainable" track for the programs, the report argues, adding that surcharges to people's text messages would help increase the revenue base for the program that allows low-income Californians afford phone service. 

Jim Wunderman, the president of the business advocacy group the Bay Area Council didn't mince words when he heard about the idea. 

"It’s a dumb idea," Wunderman told the San Jose Mercury News. "This is how conversations take place in this day and age, and it’s almost like saying there should be a tax on the conversations we have."

Regulators argue that it's the fact that since the way conversations have changed, we also need to update how we obtain money for the programs. 

"From a consumer’s point of view, surcharges may be a wash, because if more surcharge revenues come from texting services, less would be needed from voice services," CPUC spokeswoman Constance Gordon said in a statement. “Generally, those consumers who create greater texting revenues may pay a bit more, whereas consumers using more voice services may pay less."

California's Public Purpose Program charges Golden State residents a surcharge on utilities, including telephone service for landlines. The CPUC is expected to vote on the controversial proposal in January 2019. 

Photo: Getty Images

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