SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – The state may start to tax your text messages and use the money to fund phone service for low-income residents.

The California Public Utilities Commission will debate whether text messages should be subject to user fees and surcharges. The Commission classifies text messaging as two-way messaging, which falls under the Public Purpose Program. Other services under that program are already taxed.

Currently, customers with prepaid plans pay surcharges to text.

The extra money collected would be used to supplement the state’s LifeLine program. It’s described as “a state program that provides discounted home phone and cell phone services to eligible households. The California LifeLine discounts help consumers lower the cost of their phone bills.” People qualify for the LifeLine program in 1 of 2 ways:


  • Medicaid/Medi-Cal
  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Federal Public Housing Assistance or Section 8
  • CalFresh, Food Stamps or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC)
  • National School Lunch Program (NSL)
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
    • 1. California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs)
    • 2. Stanislaus County Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (StanWORKs)
    • 3. Welfare-to-Work (WTW)
    • 4. Greater Avenues for Independence (GAIN)
  • Tribal TANF
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
  • Head Start Income Eligible (Tribal Only)
  • Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
  • Federal Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit Program

Income Based:

Household Size

Annual Income Limit







Each Additional Member


Credit: CPUC



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