Should text messages be taxed to help the poor? One state is considering it

One State Considers Taxing Text Messages to Help the Poor

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — If you live in California, you may soon have to pay a tax for your text messages.

According to the Mercury News and KGO, the state's Public Utilities Commission will vote Jan. 10 on the tax, which "likely would be billed as a flat surcharge per customer ... not a fee per text." Officials have not said how much that charge would be.

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The money would be used "to help support programs that make phone service accessible to the poor," the Mercury News reported.

Opponents said the fees could cost California consumers more than $45 million annually.

"When hardworking Californians are already feeling taxed and 'feed' to death, not every new idea needs a new tax to fund it," Carl Guardino, Silicon Valley Leadership Group president and CEO, told KGO.

Meanwhile, the CTIA, a trade group that represents wireless carriers, is arguing that the PUC can't legally charge the fee because "texting is an information service like email, not a telecommunications service," the Mercury News reported.

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