New bill proposes tax on text messages for Californians


Dominick Shrewberry

Student reaches out to friend through text message.

Olivia Sklenka, Lancer Express Editor in Chief

Earlier this week, The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) announced their proposal for a tax on texting for California residents. The CPUC proposed this tax in hopes that the revenue made will increase funds going to programs such as 911 service and reduce phone rates for lower-income residents by enabling greater access to alternative communication capabilities such as cell phones. 

If passed, the law will affect students and adults alike.

“That is a great way to use the money,” junior Foster Provo said. “But California already has a $201 billion tax budget.”

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Additionally, CPUC believes that this new tax would make up for the reduction of revenue resulting from fewer voice calls that are also taxed.  

Since 2011, text messages have increasingly replaced traditional voice telephone calls and are believed to be responsible for a one-third reduction in prior telecommunications revenue over the past six years.

“I feel like California should spend its tax dollars wisely,” Provo said. “Rather than proposing new bills to earn more revenue.”

Information released in a filing provided by the CUPC states that the tax would apply to messages sent through a phone’s built-in messaging system, something iPhone users would know as “green text bubbles” traditionally known as SMS and MMS. Not only is the CPUC looking to apply this tax for future text messages, but they are also seeking payments for the last five years’ worth of text messages sent as well.

Despite the funds being set aside to benefit a variety of programs, there has been controversy surrounding the bill.

“There will be additional costs and things will be more expensive,” freshman Ben Hanan said. “People do not want to pay for something they are already paying for.”

Students will be waiting to hear the results of the vote Jan. 10. to see if their bills will go up.

“I am not happy or mad with it right now,” senior Kolette Morehead said. “If it passes, we have to see the cost of it, then make an opinion.”