large image

Trusted Reviews is supported by its audience. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

A tax on texting could be on the cards in 2019

The U.S. state of California is proposing a tax on text messages, because people have stopped making phone calls. The state is looking to increase revenues for underserved communities with a monthly surcharge on mobile users’ bills for SMS services.

California’s Public Utilities Commission places fees on voice services, but because less people are making these calls, it figures it can make up the one-third shortfall by taxing texts. It believes up to $44.5 million a year could be raised to subsidise these lower earners.

Naturally, the phone companies aren’t exactly ecstatic about the proposals, which the commission will vote on on January 10 2019. The phone companies trade group argues that a federal law classifying texts as an ‘information service’ like email would prohibit such a tax being levied on them.

Related: Best smartphone 2018

Another factor to consider is the range of texting services on offer. While it would be easy to regulate cellular SMS services through user tariffs, many folks opt for web-based services like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Apple’s iMessages as an alternative.

The CITA, which represents the mobile companies says it would create inequity “between wireless carriers and other providers of messaging services.”

“Subjecting wireless carriers’ text messaging traffic to surcharges that cannot be applied to the lion’s share of messaging traffic and messaging providers is illogical, anticompetitive, and harmful to consumers,” the CTIA said in its filing (via CNN).

Whether the motion will pass, or be subject to change remains to be seen.

Would you be ok with a texting tax to fund social programs in the UK? Drop us a line @TrustedReviews on Twitter.

Why trust our journalism?

Founded in 2004, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have 9 million users a month around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

author icon

Editorial independence

Editorial independence means being able to give an unbiased verdict about a product or company, with the avoidance of conflicts of interest. To ensure this is possible, every member of the editorial staff follows a clear code of conduct.

author icon

Professional conduct

We also expect our journalists to follow clear ethical standards in their work. Our staff members must strive for honesty and accuracy in everything they do. We follow the IPSO Editors’ code of practice to underpin these standards.