California texting tax: What we know about the proposal

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The proposal by a California commission to impose a “texting tax” raised more questions Wednesday than answers. Here’s what we know so far:

Who is behind this?

The proposal was filed by California’s Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), a group that regulates public utilities operating in the state. In addition to communications services, such as cell phone carriers, the group is also responsible for regulating energy, water and transportation over rail systems, and passenger cars.

Why are they doing this?

The proposal hopes to use the tax to help fund access to telecommunications services for lower-income California residents, making up for lost revenue the state used to receive from a tax on voice calls.

As mobile phone users shifted from making phone calls to using messaging services to communicate, voice call revenue for these state programs has dropped by roughly a third, from $16.5 billion in 2011 to $11.3 billion in 2017, according to filings from the commission.

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