California commission won't pursue tax on text messaging

Californians don’t have to worry about having their texts taxed. The proposal has been pulled.

California's Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) announced it would no longer be pursuing the measure that would've added a surcharge to phone bills, according to a statement release by the agency via Twitter over the weekend.

The CPUC noted that if texting were a telecommunications service it would be subject to state tax under California law. "In light of the FCC's action, assigned Commissioner Carla J. Peterman has withdrawn from the CPUC's Jan. 10, 2019 Voting Meeting" the proposal that would've added the tax.

It was reported last week, state regulators were considering charging a fee for text messaging on mobile phones in order to help programs that make phone service accessible to the poor, according to a report from the Mercury News.

The proposal, which was scheduled for a vote next month by the California Public Utilities Commission, faced opposition from the wireless industry and business groups.

It is not known how much individuals were expected to have paid for texting services, but according to the Mercury News, it would likely be billed as a flat surcharge per customer, not a fee a per text.

In a lengthy report, the California Public Utilities Commission explained the reasoning for the texting tax, revealing that California’s total reported revenue from the state telecommunications industry declined to $11.2 billion in 2017 from $16.5 billion in 2011, while the Public Purpose Program budget has soared to $998 million in 2017, compared to $670 million 2011. The revenue from the telecommunications industry is used to fund the program.