California Proposes Tax on Text Messages, Retroactive 5 Years

California regulators want to tax text messages to fund programs that bring connectivity to underserved residents.

Please consider California Proposes a Plan to Tax Text Messages.

A new surcharge proposed by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) wouldn't be a per-text tax, but a monthly fee based on a cellular bill that includes any fees for text-message services.

The 52-page proposal by CPUC Commissioner Carla J. Peterman lays out the details of the plan, and says the state's Public Purpose Program budget is going up while incoming fees to fill it are decreasing

According to the CPUC, the charges go to a number of different programs, including 911 services, subsidized phone service for low-income residents, and equipment for deaf and hard-of-hearing users.

The proposed plan could be complicated by a new Federal Communication Commission ruling. On Wednesday, the FCC approved a new rule that classifies text messages as an "information service" like email. Proponent of the rule say it will give carriers the ability to crack down on spam messages, and critics say it could lead to carriers censoring messages.

The CTIA argued in a legal filing submitted Wednesday that if texts are an information service, then the CPUC doesn't have authority over them and can't add on surcharges. It claims the proposal would go against federal law.

Retroactive Five Years

Mercury News notes that "under the regulators’ proposal the charge could be applied retroactively for five years."


I have a better idea. Stop giving away "free" phone services. Then you won't have to collect taxes to pay for them.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (39)
No. 1-14

"I have a better idea. Stop giving away "free" phone services. Then you won't have to collect taxes to pay for them."

As long as government can buy the vote of A with free services paid for at gunpoint by B, that's what government will do.

It won't stop until B realizes it is government's ability to steal and redistribute that is the problem which needs solving. No different from any other amoral self optimizer, if government can steal, it will steal.


Rahm to tax pot, gambling, whores and organ sales to attempt to support the ponzi.


Public union pensions will be paid.

That is all you really need to know.

Ron Cataldi
Ron Cataldi

Wow what a deep thought Mish, get rid of services for those nasty poor folks. It's almost like libertarianism is an actual, feasible economic model. Almost. But not really. It's a fine personal philosophy if you're OK with coming off like an autistic person who only cares about themselves, but applied to society at large? LOL. Start a political party and call it "Mad Max."


A 5 year retroactive tax? If the courts don’t stop that then they really are just a rubber stamp for government. Next stop, California passes a retroactive tax on everything everyone owns back to Sept 9th, 1850.

Maybe they will first pass a law that drivers must keep yellow emergency vests in their cars? That would be hilarious.