Just about the time you think we are safe from another new state tax here in California our Public Utility Commission staff comes up with a proposal to tax your text messages.
Yep. They want to tax your text messaging capabilities that your cellular phone possesses.
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is proposing a surcharge that wouldn’t be a per-text tax, but a monthly fee based on a cellular bill that includes any fees for text-message services. Most carriers offer a flat fee option for texting, and already charge a similar fee for other services included in the bill — such as phone calls. The specific structure of the charge would vary from carrier to carrier.
This news broke earlier this week and of course is making national news.
Why does the national media care about a Text Tax proposal by the California Public Utilities Commission? It’s a fact that our state’s creative abilities to tax its consumers is frequently a precursor to what eventually happens in other states.
Perhaps a more important question is this: Why are members of the California Public Utilities Commission simply appointed to their posts? A body so powerful is best elected by California’s voters. Once elected by the public they are accountable to us.
Our State Board of Equalization, another powerful body, are elected to their post every four years. These members are directly accountable to the voters and are not beholden to those state officials who appoint them.
As Gov. Jerry Brown passes the torch to Governor-elect Gavin Newsom, our new Governor can work with the Legislature, in a bipartisan manner, to create legislation that allows the Public Utility Commission to be directly elected by the voters.
You have time to weigh in on the Text Tax. Contact your city, county, and state elected leaders and ask them to take a position on the Text Tax. You may also contact the commissioners and staff of the commission directly.
All Commissioners’ names, phone numbers and email addresses can be found here.
Your public officials want to hear from you on this proposed text tax as they shape policy that impacts all of us in one way or another.