CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

Mobile

California text messaging tax could add extra fees to phone bills

The fees would reportedly help make mobile services more accessible to the poor.

Female writing text messages
Francis Dean/Getty Images

Californians, you may have to pay for text messages.

State regulators in California have been discussing a tax on texts to help finance programs that make mobile service accessible to the poor, according to a Tuesday report in The Mercury News. Under the proposal, consumers would reportedly pay their wireless carrier a flat rate fee for texts, though it's unclear how much the surcharge might be.

The California Public Utilities Commission filed the proposal last month, detailing why the commission is considering charging for text messages. State regulators found that the Public Purpose Program budget has increased from $670 million in 2011 to $998 million in 2017, but that revenue from the telecom industry that funds the public program has fallen over $5 billion in the same time period.

Regulators who support the proposal said charging for text messages would help "preserve and advance" public programs.

The proposal is scheduled to be heard on Jan. 10, 2019 at the Voting Meeting, according to a CPUC spokesperson. The Federal Communications Commission would decide on Wednesday if the state utilities commission has authority to impose such surcharges, according to The Mercury News.

The FCC didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. 

First published on Dec. 12, 1:21 p.m. PT. 

Updates on Dec. 13, 8:41 a.m. PT: Adds information from CPUC spokesperson. 

Best tax software and services compared: Turbo Tax vs. H&R Block and more

Follow the Money: This is how digital cash is changing the way we save, shop and work.