It seems that to the left, not only is everything racist, but everything should be subject to taxation. This includes your free speech, as evidenced by plans in California to potentially tax text messaging.
The Mercury News reported that despite consumers already being hit with a surcharge to fund the Public Purpose Programs, state regulators want to impose an additional tax on texting.
The Public Purpose Programs help make “phone service accessible for the poor.”
While specifics about the tax collection are unclear, it is unlikely to be a tax applied per text. According to the Mercury News, the likelihood is that the tax will be applied as a flat tax.
Regulators specify helping the poor with phone service as justification for the new tax, which “could be applied retroactively for five years.”
This means in addition to the estimated $44.5 million annual cost for consumers, the retroactive element of the tax could cost consumers more than $220 million. All of this could also mean higher cellular service charges — but that is not all.
Cellular service providers argue it could hurt their business, because while they would be subject to the new fees, other messaging services such as Facebook and WhatsApp would not. This could drive more consumers to opt for voice-only services to avoid the fee and use other messaging services to fit their texting needs.
This, too, could spell trouble for consumers, given the privacy violations, hacking, censoring and banning frequently found on social media platforms.
There are still obstacles regulators must overcome before such a tax can come to pass.
First and foremost is the legality of such a tax. President of the Bay Area Council business-sponsored advocacy group, Jim Wunderman, has criticized the idea and pointed out some clear issues with it.
“It’s a dumb idea. This is how conversations take place in this day and age, and it’s almost like saying there should be a tax on the conversations we have.”
He added that he is not aware of any program from local, state or federal authorities that imposes taxes on texting. But the legality question goes even further.
Legal filings from CITA, which “represents the U.S. wireless communications industry,” note that “texting is an information service like email, not a telecommunications service subject to the commission’s authority.”
Additionally, CITA has said “that the state utilities commission ‘has no authority to impose surcharges on text messaging.’”
The Federal Communications Commission is expected to weigh in on the matter this week, and in an affirmative way. This means that they would affirm the claims by CITA, thereby putting a stop, for now, to this particular variation of the taxation plan by California regulators if they do indeed affirm it.
But California is known for being tax-heavy and the left is known for their love of taxation. Don’t think this tax will just go away, particularly in light of what happened after businesses wrote a letter to the commission asking for the tax plan to be dropped.
The Mercury News reported that “the commission in a proposed decision by an administrative law judge concluded ‘in principle that the commission should assess Public Purpose Program surcharges and user fees on all text messaging services revenue’ and that it has the necessary authority to do so.”
In the meantime, the California Public Utilities Commission has come out swinging against reports about the new tax. On Twitter, they argued that consumer bills will look the same, just with more of the fee being applied to texting than to voice services.
The claims you may have heard of a new “texting tax” are wrong. This graphic shows an example of how a revised bill might look if the proposal in question was approved. The proposal is an update to an existing surcharge to fund existing programs that are legislatively mandated. pic.twitter.com/eoIq7G4FHn
— California PUC (@californiapuc) December 13, 2018
However, in a statement published by The Mercury News, CPUC spokesperson Constance Gordon pointed out the catch. “From a consumer’s point of view, surcharges may be a wash, because if more surcharge revenues come from texting services, less would be needed from voice services. Generally, those consumers who create greater texting revenues may pay a bit more, whereas consumers using more voice services may pay less.”
“California just doesn’t stop trying to get money out of you,” California resident Juan Gutierrez said to The Mercury News. “What’s next?”
The fight to kill a texting tax or an increase in texting surcharges may be only beginning for Californians. And if the plan for such a tax or surcharge increase succeeds there, it will likely be attempted in the rest of the country as well.
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