What The Deal Is With This ‘Text Tax,’ And What It Means

A “text tax” was proposed, which would place an extra tax on the very act of sending a text message, but it’s in the early stages and has some hurdles to jump.

By DAVID on December 14, 2018
(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

A text-tax is basically an extra tax added to your phone bill for text messaging. The tax was proposed by the California Public Utilities Commission. The idea for the tax is to help support public services. So, the 911 system, and LifeLine program.

The CPUC officially says the tax is “used to support public programs like 911 service; the CPUC’s LifeLine program, which subsidizes phone rates for low income consumers; and the Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program, which provides special equipment for the deaf and hard-of hearing.” It would amount to about $.70 per “$10 of text revenues. Not only are consumers opposed to the tax, but the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association is as well.

But, remember that this is just a proposed tax, there’s nothing signed into law at all. Also, the Federal Communications Commission is sort of throwing a wrench into the CPUC’s plan. Earlier this week they changed what a “text message” is classified as. It went from a “telecommunications service” to a “information services.” So basically, since it’s used for more than just talking to one another, it’s not technically a communication-only thing. APparently that’s a loophole in the CPUC’s plan. Here’s some information on what makes “information service” different from “telecommunication service.” And here’s some more info on the “Text Tax.”

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