EDITORIAL: California wants to tax text messages

Somewhere, the late George Harrison is saying “I told you so” about the latest loony idea to emanate from that bastion of progressive thought on Nevada’s western border.

Last week, the California Public Utilities Commission proposed a new state tax on text messages. Yes, text messages. To make matters worse, the proposal — which would cost consumers about $44.5 million annually — would apply retroactively to the past five years.

Thus, the California tax man hopes to reach back in time to loot $220 million from the state’s cellphone users before even implementing the new levy on beleaguered residents.

If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street,

If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat.

If you get too cold, I’ll tax the heat,

If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet.

This shameless cash grab is justified as an effort to raise money to support communications services for deaf and disabled residents, along with the poor. This in a state that plans to dump $75 billion into a bullet train boondoggle connecting Los Angeles to San Francisco.

“Taxing texts isn’t just regressive, it’s also unnecessary,” Marie Waldron, an Assembly Republican from north of San Diego, told a Los Angeles TV station. “The state is flush with cash, while ordinary Californians are struggling. The idea of increasing taxes on anything right now is absurd.”

Various entities already impose myriad taxes on phone bills and communications. But this proposal takes to a whole new level the ferocity with which public officials pursue other people’s money.

USA Today reports that it’s not clear whether the idea would be legal under federal law. But since when in this era of Donald Trump have California officials felt any fealty to federal law?

The California PUC is scheduled to vote on the matter next month. If Golden Staters don’t rise up in revolt, they deserve their fate.

Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman

And you’re working for no one but me.

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