Come November, voters in Sacramento, Calif., will have the chance to weigh in on a ballot measure that would extend an existing utility tax to include SMS messages. Currently, the tax is applied to calls made from mobile phones, as well as electricity, gas and TV services. While extending the tax, the measure also would decrease the tax from 7.5% to 7% and include Internet phone services.
The city has not estimated how much it will gain if the measure passes, but reportedly has said that the current utility tax raises about $20 million per year for the city.
Taxes on cell phone bills have been hot topics of debate in many cities across the country, as local governments argue that wireless services are the same as landline services which have traditionally been taxed like utility services. Wireless carriers have countered that their services are different because they do not need to dig up city land and bury miles of cable.