Text Tax . . . OMG: California Considering Text Message Tax

The California Public Utilities Commission wants to make mobile pones more accessible to the poor. That is a noble mission but the means is likely to leave many irate.  The Commission will vote on a proposal to tax text messaging — a proposal that raises both political and legal concerns.

The vote will be held next month and is being opposed by various business groups.  It would like amount to a flat surcharge to people who want to text.   It would raised roughly $45 million a year in extra charges.

The California Public Utilities Commission report says that a surcharge is needed to fund the program for access for the poor because revenues funding the program has declined.

There remains however a serious question of whether the Commission has the legal authority to impose such charges. The Federal Communications Commission is expected to object. It could come down to whether texting is an information service like email or a telecommunications service under the commission’s authority.

If the California Commission prevails, it could open up this growing method of communication to tax increases and surcharges in all 50 states.

111 thoughts on “Text Tax . . . OMG: California Considering Text Message Tax”

  1. Independent Bob, gas taxes are used to repair the roads. Insufficient funds results in potholes. Take your pick.

    1. Yes, I believe we all recognize that, but at some point enough is enough. There is so much fraud, abuse, and inefficiencies in government — everywhere — and no incentive to spend wisely. It’s an orgy of OPM and no one does it better (or worse, as the case may be) than California. The Swiss and Germans have high taxes, but have you seen their infrastructure? They basically get what they pay for. In America, the politicos get what we pay for. Yellow jackets anyone?

      1. Most state departments of transportation are efficiently run. Same for the cities. You are just Making Stuff Up.

        1. David Benson is pretending to be a civil engineer. That’s not Making Stuff Up because reasons.

    2. Actually, all the funds they tell us over and over again will fix the roads instead go to pensions, the vacation train, and other pork projects. Then they come back the next year with their hands out, demanding more money to fix the terrible roads.

      I also dislike toll roads. They use our money to build a road, and then want to charge us to drive on it. They also disproportionally impact the poor. The few California toll roads I’ve driven on were almost empty at the time. They did not relieve the congestion as promised.

      Why aren’t politicians ever held accountable for the outcome of their bills, measures, and propositions? Each should get an unbiased grade, annually. Prop ABC promised X, did it deliver?

      This data is required for voters to be informed and knowledgeable. Otherwise, they just dutifully vote as their party tells them, none the wiser that it’s all been siphoned away every time they voted thus before.

        1. Actually, no, David. You are wrong. Californians put Prop 6 on the ballot to stop Jerry Brown from continuing to raid gas taxes to fund high speed rail. It would have repealed the latest gas tax, and required future such taxes to be voted upon instead of imposed. Since it was defeated, Jerry Brown can continue to use gas taxes for high speed rail, claiming rapid transit falls under that purview. It’s been going on for years, which is easily discernible.

          1. High speed rail is deemed to be a transportation requirement.

            Learn basic logic.

            1. David:

              You clearly have not researched this issue, so please refrain from your continued ad hominem.

              High Speed Rail will not relieve traffic congestion. Its ridership was found by a court to be wildly over estimated, and the costs wildly under represented. It has been determined that it will be the most expensive, empty, rapid transit in CA among all the other empty, expensive, rapid transit. All those people on the 405, 10, 5, and 101 are not on their way to San Francisco.

              CA also failed to secure its funding, and investors are not flocking to the project. They are desperate to lay rail, which I believe is because once enough track has been laid, they will have the excuse that if they don’t complete it, it will be a train to nowhere.

                1. And you, David, do not know the meaning of relying on facts other than your own.

                  She cited correctly information to support her position and you provided nothing but idealism and personal criticism. It is obvious that you lost the argument and are too arrogant to admit it.

                  Are you so convinced that all transportation taxes go only to transportation? Well, it does tend to happen most of the time in Washington but it is not always the case elsewhere. Karen cited an example in California and you refuse to accept that what she wrote could be true.

            2. David, Karen has already responded. She is right and you are wrong. You need high masses of people travelling on a regular basis from point A to point B where they don’t have to rent a car at point B or travel to point A.

                1. Take note David how you utilize ad hominem instead of your brain when solving problems. Typical David response. Nothing that indicates David has any idea of what he is talking about.

            3. In addition, a state hydrologist at a high speed rail information seminar explained to me that they have to drain any and all underground water resources that they encounter, especially when tunneling. This is in a drought state where farmers are getting their wells capped and can no longer grow food crops. They also plan to tunnel underground for miles in an earthquake state.

              Low projected ridership
              Costs rising way above the $10 billion promised on the ballot – currently estimated at $75 billion
              Underground tunnels in earthquake state near fault lines
              Endangers aquifers in a drought state with periodic water rationing
              Maintenance and upgrade expenses will be perpetual drains on taxpayer money
              The rail has been determined that it will not be financially self sustaining, but will require continuous subsidies to stay running
              Instead of taking 3 hours to get to San Francisco, the route will now require at least one rail change, cost nearly as much as a one hour plane ride, and take at the last estimate 5 hours, similar to driving.
              Circumvented environmental impact studies
              Track safety issues – there are too many curves and spirals

              I think it will have a novelty following for the first few months, because it will be pretty and yellow, and then it will be empty. Perhaps they will manage to fill it with politicians, traveling at taxpayer expense.


              Rail design and safety veteran Susan MacAdams has requested an immediate stop-work order for the Fresno to Merced section, also referred to as Construction Package 1 (CP-1). MacAdams is a Track and Alignment Expert with previous experience working for the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) and the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro).

              She raises concerns about the dangerous mix of track curves, elevations and spirals, and suggests that they are more appropriate for amusement park rides.

              Building straight tracks along the UPRR corridor from Merced to Fresno was the shortest route for HSR.

              In 2012, the track route called the Hybrid was chosen by the Authority. This route veers from the UPRR corridor and zig-zags across open farmland. The sixty mile straight route now contains nearly 25 miles of high speed curves and horizontal super-elevated spirals with an additional ten miles of track. Trains will travel over the curves and spirals on ballasted track built on alluvial soil at 220 mph. The California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) officials continue to state that this route between Merced and Fresno is the backbone of the high speed rail system, yet this backbone has developed scoliosis, or curvature of the spine; the area in question will need a spinal brace.

        2. More information:


          “State officials announced Thursday that $2.4 billion from increases in the gas tax and vehicle fees will be spent on dozens of transit projects, including work to prepare Southern California for the 2028 Summer Olympics.”

          “An additional $1.9 billion for the projects will come from funds collected by the state’s landmark climate change program, which requires polluters to buy carbon emission credits, the officials said.
          The money will go to six Metropolitan Transit Authority expansion projects, including light-rail extensions to Torrance and Montclair, and additional rapid transit service along congested corridors, according to the California State Transportation Agency, which allocated the money.”

          In the San Francisco Bay Area, it will help complete the funding for a Bay Area Rapid Transit line to San Jose and the creation of new SamTrans express bus routes along the U.S. 101 corridor.

          The money is part of the $5.4 billion expected to be raised annually for road and bridge repairs and mass transit improvements through increases in the gas tax and vehicle fees approved last year by the Legislature and Brown.”

          Please note the following:

          1. Rapid transit is mostly empty in CA. We are not centralized like London or NYC. Buses and the Metrolink are mostly empty. Just because politicians claim that expanding buses and high speed rail will reduce pollution won’t make it so. That is why they tried “Road Diets” which is where politicians closed off lanes of the busiest roads in LA and Orange County to try to force commuters into rapid transit. When the market found mass transit to take too long and was too expensive, the Road Diets was an attempt at force. https://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-metrolink-riders-20140908-story.html

          2. The Rapid Transit line mentioned above is also known as high speed rail. My statement was anything but false.

          3. The high speed rail will not relieve traffic congestion or combat global warming. The commuters clogging Southern California freeways are not on their way to San Francisco. The vacation train will cost $75 billion as a plum to Democratic donors, while doing nothing to relieve gridlock.

          4. Under SB1 (gas tax), money goes to high speed rail and light rail, as well as parks and jobs programs.

          5. Look up underfunded California pensions. It will be an eye opener on the cost of such Progressive policies.

          1. The commuters clogging Southern California freeways are not on their way to San Francisco.

            To relieve the clogging, impose road tolls to finance maintenance and amortization and have a base rate – peak rate structure.

      1. I also dislike toll roads. They use our money to build a road, and then want to charge us to drive on it.

        Again, Karen, the use of tolls for maintenance and amortization assesses the cost of the road on the beneficiaries precisely. It’s comparatively efficient. A method of approximating that is through the use of auto registration fees and motor fuels taxes to build a dedicated fund to be used exclusively for maintenance and amortization.

  2. Around, this was designed to go up every year and the politicians wouldn’t have to vote on this at all. Guaranteed to go up every year. It was to be set up that even if the rate of inflation were to go lower it would not be lowered. Don’t be stupid, politicians want your money. They’re looking for every conceivable way of separating you from your money. The federal government collects something like four and a half trillion dollars in taxes each year. Washington DC is swimming in other people’s money. And it’s still not enough.

  3. One point of clarification: the CPUC is currently collecting taxes for these programs on based on “phone” calls. Since more people text each other than talk on the phone these days, revenue from taxes has plummeted. This is the CPUC’s attempt to recover these taxes elsewhere. It’s likely any tax would have to be approved by the CA Legislature. Don’t be surprised when it passes and CA voters fail to revolt. After all its for the poor, downtrodden,homeless, [insert your favorite victim group here] and virtue-signalling is the state sport.

  4. Mespo, I live in a state that 2 years ago tried to pass a gas tax that was indexed to the rate of inflation. That means the gasoline tax goes up every year and the politicians can just sit there and watch the tax go up every year. I proudly signed a petition to get a ballot question that would allow the voters to reject such a thing, and they did. Now these same politicians want to tax the mileage on a yearly basis that you put on your car. It ever ends. The people have to always remain vigilant on these money grabbing politicians.

    1. That means the gasoline tax goes up every year and the politicians can just sit there and watch the tax go up every year.

      If it’s indexed to inflation, the real value of the excise doesn’t change.

      1. core cpi or noncore? one has energy and the other does not. deriavative of the deriavative

    2. Now these same politicians want to tax the mileage on a yearly basis that you put on your car. It ever ends. The people have to always remain vigilant on these money grabbing politicians.

      Again, the alternative to motor fuel taxes or milage taxes or road tolls is financing maintenance and amortization through sales and income taxes (and property taxes in some venues). The fuel taxes and milage taxes come closer to assessing costs on beneficiaries. Socializing the cost (by assessing it on people in their capacity as consumers or as property owners) is less pareto efficient.

  5. “It would raised (sic) roughly $45 million a year in extra charges. The California Public Utilities Commission report says that a surcharge is needed to fund the program for access for the poor because revenues funding the program has declined.”

    – Professor Turley

    This proposed tax, as are most taxes in CA and the USA, constitutes redistribution of wealth or individual welfare. It is unconstitutional and must be declared such and struck down by the judicial branch including the Supreme Court.

    The constitutional rights of Americans in every state shall not be impinged by any state or the federal government. No state government shall nullify the fundamental law established by the Constitution.

    Congress and inferior levels of governance have the power to tax for “…general Welfare…” omitting and, thereby, excluding the power to tax for “individual welfare.”

    Article 1, Section 8

    “The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;…”

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