November 26, 2018
President Michael Picker
Commissioner Carla J. Peterman
Commissioner Liane M. Randolph
Commissioner Martha Guzman Aceves
Commissioner Clifford Rechtschaffen
Executive Director Alice Stebbins
The California Public Utilities Commission
505 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102
RE: (Rulemaking 17-06-023) Order Instituting Rulemaking to Consider Whether Text Messaging Services are Subject to Public Purpose Program Surcharges
Dear Commissioners,
I am writing to you today regarding a proposal by Commissioner Peterman that would create a new and unprecedented California-only tax on text messaging. This additional tax on text messaging would increase wireless bills for tens of millions of Californians.
California consumers with a mobile phone are already paying the majority of the state Public Purpose Program fees and taxes, so this additional tax on text messaging would effectively be a double tax on the same consumers for the same programs. This proposed text tax would place the burden of funding Public Purpose Programs disproportionately on wireless consumers that regularly use text messaging.
This proposal would harm not just a large majority of California’s residents, but could also disproportionately harm lower income Californians as adults living in poverty and near poverty are more likely be living in households with only wireless phones.
California households cannot afford higher wireless bills or a tax on text messaging, which is an important way for individuals to stay connected with their families, friends, and coworkers in today’s modern society.
While the CPUC’s Public Purpose Programs do play an important role in advancing communications in California, this text tax proposal is not the right policy for our state.
I strongly urge the Commission to vote NO on the text tax.