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STATE BOARD OF EQUALIZATION STAFF LEGISLATIVE BILL ANALYSIS

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STATE BOARD OF EQUALIZATION STAFF LEGISLATIVE BILL ANALYSIS
STATE BOARD OF EQUALIZATION
STAFF LEGISLATIVE BILL ANALYSIS
Date:
05/28/14
Bill No:
Assembly Bill 1717
Tax Program:
Prepaid Mobile
Telephony Services
Surcharge
Author:
Perea
Sponsor:
CTIA – The Wireless
Association
Code Sections:
RTC 41020, 41030, 41033
RTC Div.2, Part 21 (42001)
RTC Div. 2, Part 21.1 (42100)
Effective Date:
Upon Enactment
Related Bills:
This analysis only addresses the provisions that impact the Board of Equalization (BOE)
BILL SUMMARY
Among other things, this bill imposes upon each prepaid consumer a prepaid mobile
telephony services (MTS) surcharge to be collected by a seller on each retail
transaction involving prepaid mobile telephony services.
Summary of Amendments
Among other things, the amendments since the last analysis (1) add language that
guarantees a minimum annual payment amount to the Prepaid MTS 911 Account, (2)
require each prepaid MTS provider to reimburse any payment deficiency to that account
based on its pro rata share of that deficiency, and (3) require BOE administrative costs
be allocated on a pro rata basis according to revenues collected.
ANALYSIS
CURRENT LAW
Surcharges and User Fee. Current law assesses a number of state surcharges and a
user fee on telecommunications services. Telephone service providers collect these
surcharges and the user fee from their customers and remit them to either the CPUC or
the BOE, as specified.
1
CPUC-Mandated Telecommunications All-End-User Surcharges. Currently, six
CPUC-mandated telecommunications all-end-user surcharges support various public
purpose programs in California. The all-end-user surcharges are remitted to the CPUC
and the surcharge rates vary from program to program. The CPUC periodically adjusts
the surcharge rates based on the forecast demand for the programs. The six all-enduser surcharge programs are as follows:
•
Universal LifeLine Telephone Service (ULTS) @ 1.15%. This program provides
discounted basic telephone (landline) services to eligible California households.
•
Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program (DDTP) @ 0.2%. The CPUC
implemented three telecommunications programs for California residents who are
deaf, hearing impaired, or disabled.
1
The following information is provided by the CPUC; for additional detail see Surcharges and Taxes.
This staff analysis is provided to address various administrative, cost, revenue and policy
issues; it is not to be construed to reflect or suggest the BOE’s formal position.
Assembly Bill 1717 (Perea)
Page 2
•
California High Cost Fund-A (CHCF-A) @ 0.18%. This fund provides a source of
supplemental revenues to 14 small local exchange carriers (LECs) for the purpose
of minimizing any rate disparity between rural and metropolitan areas.
•
California High Cost Fund-B (CHCF-B) @ 0.0% 2. This fund provides subsidies to
carriers of last resort (COLRs) to provide basic local telephone service to residential
customers in high-cost areas that certain carriers currently service, as specified.
The fund keeps basic telephone service affordable to meet the CPUC’s universal
service goal.
•
California Teleconnect Fund (CTF) @ 0.59%. Another program established by the
CPUC to meet universal service goals. This fund provides a 50% discount on
selected telecommunication services to qualifying schools, libraries, governmentowned and operated hospitals and health clinics, and community-based
organizations.
•
California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) @ 0.464%. A program that provides
grants to “telephone corporations” to fund unserved and underserved areas with
broadband services.
CPUC User Fee (Reimbursement Account) @ 0.18%. The CPUC determines
annually the appropriate fee to be paid by the telecommunications carriers. The CPUC
calculates the user fee based on the telecommunications carrier's gross intrastate
revenue, excluding inter-carrier sales, equipment sales, and directory advertising. The
fee, which is remitted to the CPUC, finances the CPUC's annual operating budget.
Telecommunications carriers with annual gross intrastate revenues in excess of
$750,000 remit this fee quarterly, on or before the 15th of April, July, October, and
January. Telecommunications carriers with annual gross intrastate revenues of
$750,000 or less remit the fee annually on or before January 15.
Emergency Telephone Users Surcharge (911 Surcharge). Under existing law, 3 the
911 Surcharge Act imposes a surcharge on amounts paid by every person in the state
for:
• Intrastate telephone communication service in this state, and
•
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service that provides access to the “911”
emergency system by any service user utilizing the digits 9-1-1 in this state.
The 911 Surcharge Act requires a service supplier to collect the surcharge from each
service user at the time it collects its billing from the service user. It also requires the
surcharge to be added to, and stated separately in, a service supplier’s billings to the
service user.
Prepaid Calling Cards. Regulation 2403, Prepaid Telephone Calling Cards, provides
that the surcharge applies to the dollar amounts deducted or the value of the minutes
deducted from the prepaid telephone calling card for intrastate telephone
communication service. The surcharge does not apply to dollar amounts or minutes for
interstate telephone communication services or minutes the user forfeits because of
expiration.
2
The CHCF-B surcharge rate was temporarily reduced from 0.30% to 0.0%, effective February 1, 2014,
because the CPUC determined that the current funds available in the CHCF-B fund’s surplus reserve are
sufficient to meet forecasted expenditures through January 1, 2015.
3
Part 20 (commencing with Section 41001) of Division 2 of the Revenue and Taxation Code (RTC).
This staff analysis is provided to address various administrative, cost, revenue and policy
issues; it is not to be construed to reflect or suggest the BOE’s formal position.
Assembly Bill 1717 (Perea)
Page 3
The regulation authorizes a service supplier to apply the surcharge to an estimate of the
charges for intrastate telephone communication service supplied through a prepaid
telephone calling card subject to the surcharge. The regulation also allows the service
supplier to base the estimate of charges on such call information as the service supplier
reasonably believes demonstrates the approximate amount of intrastate telephone
communication service charges subject to the surcharge.
If a prepaid telephone calling card contains a statement that the card price includes
applicable taxes and fees, the regulation authorizes the service supplier responsible for
surcharge collection and payment to reduce the taxable measure of such services by
the amount of taxes and fees that are not subject to the 911 surcharge, including the
911 surcharge itself.
Rate. The current surcharge rate is 0.75% of the amounts paid for intrastate telephone
and VoIP services in this state. Service suppliers remit the surcharge to the BOE for
deposit in the State Treasury to the credit of the State Emergency Telephone Number
Account (Account) in the General Fund. The funds in the Account pay for 911
emergency telephone number system administration costs.
Local Taxes, Fees, and Surcharges. Locally imposed taxes, fees, and surcharges on
communications services, such as 911 or access line taxes, fees, and surcharges and
utility user taxes (UUTs), may also be imposed by cities and counties on the
consumption of utility services, including telephone service.
PROPOSED LAW
Prepaid Mobile Telephony Services Surcharge Collection Act
This bill enacts the Prepaid Mobile Telephony Services Surcharge Collection Act (Act). 4
The Act imposes, on and after January 1, 2016, a prepaid mobile telephony services
surcharge (MTS surcharge) on each prepaid consumer in lieu of the surcharges and
user fee imposed under existing law and collected and paid to the CPUC and BOE by
telephone communication service providers. The Act requires a seller to collect the
surcharge from the prepaid consumer at the time of each prepaid mobile telephony
services “retail transaction” in this state. The bill requires the surcharge and local
charges to be imposed as a percentage of the retail sales price. The bill also requires
the surcharge to be separately stated on an invoice, receipt, or other similar document
provided to the prepaid consumer, or otherwise disclosed electronically to the prepaid
consumer, at the time of the retail transaction.
The bill defines a “retail transaction” to mean “the purchase of prepaid mobile telephony
services, either alone or in combination with mobile data or other services, from a seller
for any purpose other than resale in the regular course of business.”
Surcharge Liability. The bill imposes the MTS surcharge and local charges on a
prepaid consumer rather than the seller; however, the bill requires the seller to collect
and remit all of the MTS surcharges and local charges. Both the surcharge amounts
required to be collected and any unreturned amounts the seller represents and collects
as the MTS surcharge and local charge owed by the prepaid consumer that are not
actually owed constitutes a seller’s debt to the state, or jointly to the state and to the
local jurisdiction, for purposes of collection on behalf of, and payment to, the local
jurisdiction imposing the charge.
4
Part 21 (commencing with Section 42000) of Division 2 of the Revenue and Taxation Code (RTC).
This staff analysis is provided to address various administrative, cost, revenue and policy
issues; it is not to be construed to reflect or suggest the BOE’s formal position.
Assembly Bill 1717 (Perea)
Page 4
Furthermore, the bill provides that a seller that collects an amount that exceeds the
MTS surcharge and local charges owing may refund those amounts to the prepaid
consumer. The seller may refund those amounts even though the surcharge amount
was submitted to the BOE and no corresponding credit or refund has yet been secured.
The bill also provides that every prepaid consumer is liable for the MTS surcharge and
local charges until paid to the state. However, a prepaid consumer’s payment to a
registered seller relieves the consumer from further liability. Nothing in the Act imposes
any obligation upon a seller to take any legal action to enforce the collection of the
surcharge and local charges imposed.
Administration. This bill requires the BOE to administer and collect the MTS
surcharge pursuant to the Fee Collection Procedures Law (FCPL). 5 For purposes of the
Act, the bill clarifies the terms “fee” and “feepayer” as follows:
•
“Fee” includes the MTS surcharge imposed by this bill; and
•
“Feepayer" includes a person required to pay that surcharge, which includes a
seller.
The FCPL generally provides for the BOE’s administration of fee programs. Among
other things, the FCPL provides for collection, reporting, return, refund, and appeals
procedures, as well as the BOE’s authority to adopt regulations related to the FCPL’s
administration and enforcement.
The bill specifically authorizes the BOE to prescribe and adopt tax administration and
enforcement regulations including, but not limited to, collections, reporting, refunds, and
appeals. In addition, the bill authorizes the BOE to prescribe, adopt, and enforce any
emergency regulations as necessary to implement the Act.
The bill also requires the BOE to: (1) establish procedures for a seller to document
when a sale is not a retail transaction, and (2) establish procedures for sharing specified
MTS surcharge collection information upon the request of the CPUC or the Office of
Emergency Services (OES).
Furthermore, the bill relieves a seller from the liability to collect the prepaid MTS
surcharge that became due and payable but was subsequently found to be worthless
and written off for income tax purposes. If a seller is not required to file income tax
returns, the bill allows a bad debt deduction or refund if the amount is charged off in
accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. If a seller subsequently
collects any amounts for which a bad debt deduction was taken or a refund was
claimed, the amount so collected is required to be reported and paid to the BOE on the
first return subsequently filed. The bill authorizes the BOE to promulgate regulations
with respect to uncollected or worthless accounts, as deemed necessary.
Exemption. The bill exempts from the prepaid MTS surcharge the retail purchase of
prepaid MTS if all of the following apply:
•
The prepaid consumer is certified as state or federal lifeline program eligible.
•
The seller is an authorized lifeline service provider, as described.
•
The exemption applies only to the amount paid for prepaid MTS that the lifeline
program specifies as exempt from surcharges and fees that compromise the prepaid
MTS surcharge.
5
Part 30 (commencing with Section 55001) of Division 2 of the RTC.
This staff analysis is provided to address various administrative, cost, revenue and policy
issues; it is not to be construed to reflect or suggest the BOE’s formal position.
Assembly Bill 1717 (Perea)
Page 5
For purposes of the exemption, the bill defines “state lifeline program” to mean the
program furnishing lifeline voice communication service pursuant to the Moore
Universal Telephone Service Act 6 or Moore Act.
Registration, Reporting, and Payment. The bill requires every seller to register with
the BOE on a BOE-prescribed form. The bill also requires the BOE to establish a
registration method that utilizes the existing seller’s permit registration process for sales
and use tax purposes.
The MTS surcharge is due and payable to the BOE quarterly on or before the last day
of the next month following each calendar quarter. In addition, a return for the
preceding calendar quarter must be filed with the BOE using electronic media at the
time of payment.
Existing law 7 authorizes the payment of the amount due and the filing of returns for
periods other than the period or periods specified in the tax and fee laws administered
under the FCPL.
Both the electronic application and tax return would be authenticated in a form or
pursuant to a method as the BOE may prescribe.
The bill allows a seller, but not a seller that is a telephone corporation or the provider of
prepaid MTS, to deduct and retain an amount equal to 2% of the total MTS surcharge
and local charge collected by the seller and requires the seller to remit the remainder of
the surcharges collected to the BOE. A seller that is a lifeline service provider shall
exclude from its remittance to the BOE any applicable lifeline exemption for prepaid
MTS sold directly to a prepaid customer.
MTS Surcharge Calculation. The bill requires the BOE to calculate the MTS
surcharge rate annually, no later than November 1 each year commencing November 1,
2015, by combining the following:
•
911 Surcharge Rate. The surcharge rate reported pursuant to Section 41030(c) of
the 911 Surcharge Act.
The bill amends 911 Surcharge Act Section 41030(b) to detail how the OES must
determine the 911 surcharge rate and the MTS surcharge rate, commencing with the
calculation made on October 1, 2015, to be effective January 1, 2016. In making the
computation of the charges applicable to the intrastate portion of prepaid mobile
telephone services, the OES is required to use “the computation method developed
by the CPUC and reported to the OES.” Section 41030(c) further requires the OES
to notify the BOE of the 911 surcharge amount, and the prepaid MTS surcharge
amount, by October 15 of each year.
•
CPUC End-User Surcharges. The bill establishes the CPUC’s reimbursement
(user) fee and telecommunication universal surcharges pursuant to Section 319(b)
of the Public Utilities Code (PUC).
This measure adds PUC Section 319 to require the CPUC to compute, commencing
October 1, 2015:
o A reimbursement fee as a percentage of the sales price for prepaid mobile
telephony services, and
6
7
Article 8 (commencing with Section 781) of Chapter 4 of Part 1 of Division 1 of the Public Utilities Code
RTC §55041.1
This staff analysis is provided to address various administrative, cost, revenue and policy
issues; it is not to be construed to reflect or suggest the BOE’s formal position.
Assembly Bill 1717 (Perea)
Page 6
o The cumulative amount of the telecommunications universal service
surcharges as a percentage of the sales price for prepaid mobile telephony
services.
In addition, Section 319 requires the CPUC, on or before October 8 each year, to
post the reimbursement fee and cumulative surcharge notice on its Internet Web site
and notify both the OES and the BOE of the information. Except for the
reimbursement fee and telecommunications universal service surcharge portion of
the MTS surcharge, the bill does not restrict the CPUC’s authority to adjust the
reimbursement fees or universal service surcharges or require that they only be
adjusted once annually.
Furthermore, Section 319 provides the CPUC with enforcement authority “to ensure
the proper remittance over retail transactions” pursuant to the Act where the prepaid
MTS provider is also the seller. However, the CPUC must collaborate with the BOE
in the exercise of its enforcement authority.
•
Local Taxes and Surcharges. The bill requires the BOE to post on its Internet
Web site, no later than each December 1, the combined total of the rates of the MTS
surcharge and the rate or rates of local charges for each local jurisdiction. The
posted combined rate applies to all retail transactions during the calendar year
beginning April 1 following the posting. However, the bill provides an exception
when a local agency notifies the BOE that the local charge(s) is inaccurate or no
longer imposed or has decreased. In such cases, the bill requires the BOE to
promptly post the recalculated rate(s). The change becomes operative on the first
day of the calendar quarter commencing more than 60 days from the date of the
local agency notification.
Retail Sale Location. The bill provides the MTS surcharge is imposed upon a
percentage of the sales price of each retail transaction that occurs in this state. A retail
transaction occurs in this state if the consumer makes the retail transaction in person at
a business location in the state (point-of-sale transaction). If this is not applicable, a
retail transaction occurs in this state if the consumer’s address is in this state (knownaddress transaction). A consumer’s address is in this state under any one of the
following circumstances:
•
The retail sale involves the shipping of an item to be delivered to, or picked up by,
the prepaid consumer at a location in the state.
•
The prepaid consumer’s address is known by the seller to be in the state. The
consumer’s address is considered to be “known by the seller” if the seller’s records
maintained in the ordinary course of business indicate that the prepaid consumer’s
address is in the state and the records are not made or kept in bad faith.
•
The prepaid consumer provides an address during consummation of the retail
transaction that is in the state, including an address provided with respect to the
payment instrument if no other address is available and the address is not given in
bad faith.
•
The mobile telephone number associates with a location in this state.
The bill states that a retail transaction occurs at only one location for local charge
determination. The bill presumes the consumption of, use of, or access to prepaid MTS
occurs at the “point-of-sale” retail transaction location. The bill further presumes a
“known-address” retail transaction occurs by the location circumstances bulleted above,
This staff analysis is provided to address various administrative, cost, revenue and policy
issues; it is not to be construed to reflect or suggest the BOE’s formal position.
Assembly Bill 1717 (Perea)
Page 7
in descending order. The bill also presumes the consumption of, use of, or access to
the prepaid MTS in a known-address transaction occurs at the known address.
Transaction Location. For a known-address transaction, the bill allows the seller to
collect the MTS surcharge and local charges that correspond to the prepaid consumer’s
five digit postal ZIP Code.
This measure discharges a seller from any liability for additional MTS surcharge or local
charges and also relieves the seller from refunding amounts collected and remitted to
the BOE if:
• A seller relies in good faith on BOE-provided information to match either a point-ofsale transaction location, or the five digit postal ZIP Code of the prepaid consumer’s
known-address, to the applicable MTS surcharge and local charges amount;
• A seller collects that amount from the prepaid consumer; and
• A seller remits the amount to the BOE in compliance with the Act.
The bill also discharges the seller from liability for any additional local charges and
relieves the seller from refunding amounts collected and remitted if the seller, with due
diligence and in good faith, relies on credible information to match the prepaid
consumer’s five digit postal ZIP code to the correct local charge, even if the ZIP code
corresponds to more than one local charge in a known-address transaction.
Miscellaneous Provisions. The MTS surcharge applies to the entire price where
prepaid mobile telephony services are sold in combination with mobile data services or
any other services or products for a single price. However, if the prepaid MTS is sold
with a cellular telephone and the purchase price for the prepaid cellular phone
component of the bundled charge is disclosed to the consumer on a receipt, invoice, or
other written electronic documentation provided to the prepaid consumer, the prepaid
MTS surcharge and local charge may be calculated on an amount that excludes the
separately stated cellular telephone price. Furthermore, the bill prohibits the application
of the surcharge or local charges to a transaction where a minimal prepaid MTS amount
is sold with a cellular telephone for a single, non-itemized bundled price. For these
purposes, a minimal amount includes a service allotment denominated as 10 minutes or
less, or $5 or less.
The bill authorizes a credit against, but not to exceed, the MTS surcharge and local
charges where the prepaid consumer paid the 911 surcharge, state utility regulatory
commission fees, state universal service charges, or local charges on the purchase to
any other state, political subdivision thereof, or the District of Columbia. The credit
would be apportioned to the charges against which it is allowed in proportion to the
amounts of those charges.
Deposit of Revenues. The bill requires the BOE to deposit all MTS surcharge
revenues into the Prepaid Mobile Telephony Services Surcharge Fund (MTS Surcharge
Fund). Deposited amounts must include all surcharges, interest, penalties, and other
amounts collected, less payments of refunds and reimbursement to the BOE for
administration and collection expenses. The bill creates the MTS Surcharge Fund in
the State Treasury. All moneys in the MTS Surcharge Fund would be deposited as
follows:
•
The 911 surcharge portion of the MTS surcharge would be deposited into the
Prepaid MTS 911 Account, which this bill creates in the MTS Surcharge Fund.
•
The CPUC surcharges portion of the MTS surcharge would be deposited into the
This staff analysis is provided to address various administrative, cost, revenue and policy
issues; it is not to be construed to reflect or suggest the BOE’s formal position.
Assembly Bill 1717 (Perea)
Page 8
Prepaid MTS PUC Account, which this bill also creates in the MTS Surcharge Fund.
With respect to reimbursement to the BOE, the bill requires the total combined annual
expense incurred by the BOE for administration and collection of the MTS surcharge
and local charges be allocated on a pro rata based on revenue collected for that portion
that is for (1) the 911 surcharge, (2) CPUC surcharges and fee, and (3) local charges.
Definitions. This bill includes several definitions of key terms, including, but not limited
to, the following:
•
"Mobile data service" has the same meaning as defined in Public Utilities Code
Section 224.4, which provides:
"Mobile data service" means the delivery of nonvoice information over a radio
band licensed by the Federal Communications Commission, to a mobile device
and includes nonvoice information communicated to a mobile telephony
services handset, nonvoice information communicated to handheld personal
digital assistant (PDA) devices and laptop computers, and mobile paging
service carriers offering services on pagers and two-way messaging devices.
“Mobile data service” includes mobile broadband service offering connectivity
over a radio band licensed by the Federal Communications Commission.
Unless specified to the contrary, “mobile data service” does not include
nonvoice information communicated through a wireless local area network
operating in the unlicensed radio bands, commonly known as a “Wi-Fi” network.
•
"Mobile telephony service" or “MTS” has the same meaning as defined in Section
224.4 of the Public Utilities Code, which provides:
"Mobile telephony service" means commercially available interconnected
mobile phone services that provide voice communication access to the public
switched telephone network (PSTN) by way of mobile communication devices
employing radiowave technology to transmit calls, including cellular
radiotelephone, broadband Personal Communications Services (PCS), digital
Specialized Mobile Radio (SMR), or another radio band licensed by the Federal
Communications Commission. “Mobile telephony services” does not include
mobile satellite telephone services or mobile data services used exclusively for
the delivery of nonvoice information to a mobile device.
•
"Seller" means a person that sells prepaid mobile telephony service to a person in a
retail transaction.
Local Prepaid Mobile Telephony Services Collection Act
This bill also enacts and repeals the Local Prepaid Mobile Telephony Services
Collection Act 8 (Local Act). It provides that it “is the intention of the Legislature that this
part shall preempt the provisions pertaining to the tax or charge rate, base, and method
of collection contained in all local ordinances, rules, or regulation concerning the
imposition of a local charge upon the consumption of prepaid mobile telephony
services, to the extent those provisions are inconsistent with the provisions of this part
and Part 21 (commencing with Section 42000). It is not the intent of the Legislature to
otherwise preempt, limit, or affect the general authority of local jurisdictions to impose a
utility user tax, local 911 charge, or any other local charges.”
8
Part 21.1 (commencing with Section 42100) of Division 2 of the RTC.
This staff analysis is provided to address various administrative, cost, revenue and policy
issues; it is not to be construed to reflect or suggest the BOE’s formal position.
Assembly Bill 1717 (Perea)
Page 9
The Local Act imposes, on and after January 1, 2016, a local charge by a local agency
on prepaid MTS collected from the prepaid consumer by a seller at the same time and
in the same manner as the prepaid MTS surcharge is collected under the Prepaid
Mobile Telephony Services Surcharge Collection Act; provided that on or before
September 1, 2015, the local agency enters into a contract with the BOE, as provided.
In the event that a local agency adopts a new local charge on prepaid MTS after
September 1, 2015, the Local Act requires the local agency to enter into a contract with
the BOE, as provided, on or before December 1st, with collection of the local charge to
commence April 1st of the next calendar year.
In the contract, the local agency must certify to the BOE: (1) that its ordinance applies
its local charge to prepaid MTS and that the local agency agrees to indemnify, and hold
and save harmless, the BOE, its officers, agents, and employees for any and all liability
for damages that may result from collection pursuant to the contract; and, (2) the
amount of the local 911 charge or the applicable tiered rate for a utility user tax.
If a local agency increases its local charge after September 1, 2015, the local agency
must provide the BOE with written notice of the increased local charge on or before
December 1st, with collection of the local charge to commence April 1st of the next
calendar year.
Notwithstanding any other law, on and after January 1, 2016, the bill:
•
Suspends the utility user tax on the consumption of prepaid MTS in the city or
county at the rate specified in its ordinance. The bill provides applicable tiered rates
based on the existing city or county rate. This provision is self-executing.
•
Suspends a charge rate applicable to prepaid MTS for communication services or
local “911” emergency telephone access. The bill specifies the applicable rate as
0% or a calculated rate percentage, based on the existing city and county per
access line rate.
On and after January 1, 2016, the Local Act shall be:
•
The exclusive collection method for the local UUT, local 911 charge, and any other
local charge imposed on consumers using prepaid MTS, and for defining the scope
of the tax or charge.
•
The complete substitute for the UUT rate set forth in the local ordinance at the
specified tiered rate. The bill also states that “this part shall not preempt, limit, or
affect the general authority of local jurisdictions to impose a utility user tax, local 911
charge, or any other local charges.”
Local Act Administration. The bill requires the BOE to perform all functions incident
to the collection of the local charges of a city or county. In addition the BOE must
collect the local charges in the same manner as it collects the MTS surcharge under the
MTS Act, subject to specified limitations. Those limitations, for which the city or county
is responsible, include:
•
Defending any claim regarding the validity of the ordinance in its application to
prepaid MTS.
•
Interpreting any provision of the ordinance, except to the extent specifically
superseded by the Local Act.
•
Responding to specified customer claims for refund.
This staff analysis is provided to address various administrative, cost, revenue and policy
issues; it is not to be construed to reflect or suggest the BOE’s formal position.
Assembly Bill 1717 (Perea)
Page 10
•
Certifying that the city or county ordinance applies the local charge to prepaid MTS
and agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the BOE, its officers, agents, and
employees for any and all liability for damages that may result from collection of the
local charge.
•
Reallocation of local charges as a result of correcting errors relating to the location
of the point of sale of a seller or the known address of a consumer, for up to two past
quarters from the date of knowledge.
For purposes of the Local Act, the bill clarifies that the references in the FCPL to “fee”
include the local charge and references to “feepayer” include a person required to pay
the local charge, including the seller.
The Local Act authorizes the BOE to prescribe and adopt rules and regulations as may
be necessary or desirable for the administration and collection of local charges and the
distribution of the local charges collected.
The Local Act limits the BOE’s audit duties to verification that the seller complied with
the Act and allows the BOE to contract with a third party to:
o Allocate and transmit collected local charges in the Prepaid Mobile Telephony
Services Fund to the appropriate local jurisdictions.
o Audit proper collection and remittance of the local charge.
o Respond to requests from sellers, customers, boards, and others regarding local
charges.
The bill applies existing disclosure laws to any third party contract, and prohibits
contingent fee arrangements as payment for services rendered.
Local Act: Deposit of Revenues. The bill creates the Local Charges for Prepaid
Mobile Telephony Services Fund in the State Treasury. All local charges imposed and
collected by the BOE are to be held in trust for the local taxing jurisdiction. Local
charges consist of all taxes, charges, interest, penalties, and other amounts collected by
the BOE, less payments for refunds and reimbursement to the BOE for expenses to
administer and collect the local charges. The bill requires the BOE to periodically
transmit the funds to the local jurisdictions as promptly as feasible and at least once in
each calendar quarter. The BOE must also furnish a quarterly statement to the local
jurisdictions indicating the amounts paid and withheld.
Miscellaneous Provisions. The Local Act contains provisions similar to the BradleyBurns Uniform Local Sales and Use Tax Law and Transactions and Use Tax Law,
including, but not limited to provisions that require:
•
the city or county to pay such costs monthly as incurred and billed by the BOE that
include all preparatory costs, as described. The Director of Finance would resolve
any preparatory-cost disputes, and his or her decision would be final.
•
the BOE to annually prepare a report showing the amount of both reimbursed and
unreimbursed administrative local charges collection costs.
Sole responsibility lies with a city or county that has adopted an ordinance that imposes
a charge that applies to prepaid MTS to:
1. Defend any claim regarding the validity of the ordinance in its application to
prepaid mobile telephony service.
This staff analysis is provided to address various administrative, cost, revenue and policy
issues; it is not to be construed to reflect or suggest the BOE’s formal position.
Assembly Bill 1717 (Perea)
Page 11
2. Interpret any provision of the ordinance, except to the extent specifically
superseded by this statute.
3. Respond to claims for refund, including claims of exemption under the ordinance.
911 Surcharge Act. This bill states that, commencing January 1, 2016, a MTS
surcharge must be imposed on amounts paid for prepaid MTS pursuant to the Act in
lieu of the 911 surcharge.
The bill also adds RTC Section 41033 to require that not less than $9,900,000 be paid
to the Prepaid MTS 911 Account for prepaid mobile telephony services beginning with
the 2016 calendar year, and ending with an unspecified calendar year. On November
15, 2017, and each year thereafter, the BOE will determine if that amount has been paid
to the Prepaid MTS 911 Account, and if not, calculate the deficiency and bill each
prepaid MTS provider its pro rata share of that deficiency. The bill provides that a
prepaid MTS providers pro rata share shall be calculated based upon each provider’s
percentage share of total California intrastate prepaid mobile telephony services
revenue.
Savings Clause. The bill adds uncodified language that preserves administrative
provisions that are applicable for the collection of the 911 surcharge and CPUC
charges, the liability for which accrued prior to January 1, 2016; the making of any
refunds and the effecting of any credits; the disposition of money collected; and the
commencement of any action or proceeding pursuant to the Public Utilities Act 9.
Operative Date. As an urgency measure, the bill becomes effective immediately.
However, the MTS surcharge is operative January 1, 2016.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY
In 2010, AB 2545 (De La Torre) would have required the CPUC to conduct a public
process for the purpose of developing recommendations for an equitable and uniform
method of collection for state and local government-imposed communications taxes,
fees, and surcharges from prepaid communications end-user consumers. That bill was
ordered to third reading in the Senate, but was subsequently moved to the Senate
inactive file where the bill died.
During the 2011-12 Legislative Session, Assembly Member Fiona Ma introduced AB
1050, which would have imposed a MTS surcharge, similar to this bill. That bill died in
the Senate Committee on Governance and Finance.
Last year’s identical AB 300 (Perea) successfully passed the Legislature, but was
vetoed by Governor Brown. In his veto message, the Governor stated:
This bill would establish an additional system for collecting and remitting fees,
surcharges and taxes applicable to prepaid mobile services. These charges would
be collected from prepaid customers and remitted to the Board of Equalization,
while fees collected from postpaid customers would continue to be remitted directly
to the Public Utilities Commission, State 911 Fund and local governments.
There is no question that the state needs an effective system for capturing local
taxes related to the sale of prepaid phones. The solution, however, proposed by
this bill is duplicative, complex and will result in significant and unnecessary costs
to the state.
9
Part 1 (commencing with Section 201) of Division 1 of the Public Utilities Code.
This staff analysis is provided to address various administrative, cost, revenue and policy
issues; it is not to be construed to reflect or suggest the BOE’s formal position.
Assembly Bill 1717 (Perea)
Page 12
I encourage the author to partner with the local governments and State Agencies
affected by these revenues and craft a bill with a more cost effective solution.
COMMENT
1. Sponsor and Purpose. The bill is sponsored by CTIA – The Wireless Association 10
and is intended to create a fair and uniform mechanism to ensure collection of state
and local communications taxes and fees from consumers of prepaid mobile
telephony services.
2. The May 28, 2014 amendments add language that guarantees a minimum annual
payment amount to the Prepaid MTS 911 Account, (2) require prepaid MTS
providers to reimburse any payment deficiency to that account based on its pro rata
share of that deficiency, and (3) establish that BOE’s annual expense for collection
and administrative costs be allocated on a pro rata basis according to revenues
collected for that portion that is for the 911 surcharge, CPUC surcharges and fee,
and local charges.
The April 2, 2014 amendments (1) deleted the 5-year sunset date and related
provisions, (2) made clarifying changes to the uncodified savings clause provisions,
and (3) removed the provisions that for calendar year 2016:
•
Prohibit service suppliers from collecting the 911 Surcharge and CPUC
surcharges and user fee from service users on the intrastate portion of charges
made for prepaid MTS; and
•
Require service suppliers to remit to the BOE and CPUC amounts equal to the
surcharges and fee that would have otherwise been reported and remitted.
3. Postpaid versus prepaid. Both postpaid and prepaid service requires an eligible
phone, SIM card, and service supplier (carrier) activation (e.g. directly from device,
online, or by phone). While postpaid service requires detailed service user
information verified through a credit check, prepaid service requires a zip code at a
minimum. Both postpaid and prepaid services require the service user to pick a rate
plan. Available prepaid rate plans include monthly plans, similar to postpaid service,
to, for example, per-minute plans and per-day plans. Both services may also allow
additional feature and service purchases, such as insurance, international services,
family locator, additional data, music, and ringtones. Both services also offer a noncontract option; however, only postpaid services offer a contract option that usually
subsidizes the cost of the phone. Lastly, both postpaid and prepaid services require
a customer account.
The principal difference between postpaid and prepaid wireless plans is in the name:
service suppliers collect postpaid charges after service consumption whereas
service suppliers collect prepaid charges before or at the time of service
consumption. Another difference is that postpaid service requires a service user
credit check while prepaid service does not.
4. Postpaid and prepaid services plans. A postpaid user receives a bill from the
service supplier for services consumed, such as the cost of the plan, extra services
(music and ringtone downloads, roaming, child-use monitoring, international options,
etc.), and for surcharges and fees. The postpaid user has several payment options,
such as credit/debit card, check, or online bill payment.
10
CTIA was originally the acronym for “Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association.”
This staff analysis is provided to address various administrative, cost, revenue and policy
issues; it is not to be construed to reflect or suggest the BOE’s formal position.
Assembly Bill 1717 (Perea)
Page 13
As the name implies, a prepaid user pays in advance for rate plans, services, and
features. Prepaid users also maintain an account with the service supplier but must
credit their account before service consumption. Prepaid users may credit their
account using the same payment methods offered to postpaid users, but they may
also pay through: refill cards (top-off cards). Top-off cards may be purchased at a
third-party retail store or a carrier store through the use of check, credit card, or
cash.
5. Top-off cards similar to gift cards. Top-off cards are simple to purchase and
redeem, allow prepaid users to stay within a budget, and provide a convenient
payment method for cash users. Top-off cards are similar to a gift card in that they
are a form of payment.
As an example, a cash consumer purchases a $50 top-off card at a retailer location.
Although the card may “advertise” $50 for all the text, talk, and data service you can
use, the wording simply advertises a service supplier (carrier)-offered plan; the
prepaid user has already selected their rate plan when the phone was activated.
The $50 redeemed to the user’s account may be used for more than paying for a
rate plan; the credit may be used to purchase games, ringtones, music, and other
services similar to postpaid service including locator services and roaming. If the
consumer would like to purchase more services, they need to buy another card.
6. Is 911 surcharge pre-collection possible? Could service suppliers pre-collect the
911 surcharge in the same manner as they pre-collect for rate plans, services, and
other features? For example, could a service supplier immediately impose and
collect the 911 surcharge at the time a user credits and/or adds value their prepaid
account? To illustrate:
Assume a new user selects a $25 prepaid rate plan at activation that allows
unlimited talk and text, plus 1 GB of data monthly. At the time of activation, the
user redeems a $50 top-off card, which credits the user’s prepaid account by
$50. Immediately, the service supplier imposes and collects the 911 surcharge
in the amount of $0.06 from the user’s $50 account balance leaving a $49.94
prepaid account balance.
At the beginning of the user’s service period, the service supplier deducts $25
from the prepaid account for the selected rate plan, leaving a $24.94 balance.
During this same billing cycle, the user purchases ringtones ($9.98) and
additional data ($10). Since this is a prepaid account, the service supplier
immediately deducts $19.98 from the user’s prepaid account leaving a $4.96
account balance.
Nearing the next billing cycle, the user pays cash for a $20 top-off card and
redeems the credit to his account to bring the account balance to $24.96. At
the beginning of the billing cycle, the service supplier attempts to pre-collect for
the $25 rate plan; however, the account is short by $0.04 and the service does
not renew. The cash user must purchase another top-off card to bring the
balance up to pay for the $25 monthly rate plan to resume service.
Current law allows a service supplier to determine which charges are not subject to
the surcharge based upon books and records. Current law also allows the service
supplier to choose a reasonable and verifiable method to determine the interstate
revenue portion not subject to the surcharge from the following:
•
Books and records kept in the regular course of business; and
This staff analysis is provided to address various administrative, cost, revenue and policy
issues; it is not to be construed to reflect or suggest the BOE’s formal position.
Assembly Bill 1717 (Perea)
•
Page 14
Traffic or call pattern studies representative of the service supplier’s business
within California.
Applying existing law to the $50 top-off card, the service supplier may apply a
percentage of charges not subject to the 911 surcharge. For this example, the
service supplier determines that 80% of their prepaid services represent nontelecommunication services. As such, the service supplier applies the inverse
percent, 20%, to the $50 amount credited to the prepaid account to determine the
telecommunication charges.
•
$50 top-off card redeemed x 20% telecommunication charges = $10
telecommunication charges
The service supplier then determines the interstate portion as 25%, and applies the
inverse percentage to the telecommunication charge amount to arrive at the
intrastate telecommunication charges.
•
$10 telecommunication charges x 75% intrastate portion = $7.50 intrastate
telecommunication charges
The service supplier then applies the 911 surcharge to the intrastate
telecommunication charges to determine the correct 911 surcharge amount. $7.50
intrastate telecommunication charges x 0.0075% surcharge rate = $0.06 “911”
surcharge
A service supplier may be unable to collect the surcharge if (1) the surcharge is
collected at the end of a service cycle, and (2) the prepaid users prepaid account
balance is zero. While BOE believes existing law provides service suppliers the
authority to pre-collect the 911 surcharge at top-off or other credit to the account, it
may be prudent to add clarifying language to the 911 surcharge law to specifically
allow a surcharge pre-collection. BOE staff is available to draft such language.
7. Administrative MTS surcharge program start-up cost funding essential. This
bill imposes the MTS surcharge on and after January 1, 2016. As a result, the BOE
must begin to implement the bill in fiscal year (FY) 2015-16, or earlier if successfully
signed during FY 2014-15.
Typically, the BOE seeks administrative cost reimbursement from the account or
fund into which tax proceeds are deposited. However, this bill creates the MTS
Surcharge Fund, which lacks funding to reimburse the BOE prior to collection of the
tax. Upfront BOE implementation cost reimbursement is essential. Thus, BOE staff
suggests the bill authorize a loan from the General Fund or other eligible fund to the
Fund. The loan would be repaid from taxes collected.
Constitutional and statutory provisions prohibit the BOE from using special fund
appropriations to support the administration of the proposed MTS program. Without
an appropriation, it may be necessary for the BOE to divert General Fund (GF)
dollars to implement the proposed tax program. A GF diversion typically
results in a negative impact on GF-supported programs and related State and
local government revenues.
This staff analysis is provided to address various administrative, cost, revenue and policy
issues; it is not to be construed to reflect or suggest the BOE’s formal position.
Assembly Bill 1717 (Perea)
Page 15
8. State Emergency Telephone Number Account funding guarantee language is
problematic. The bill requires the BOE to annually determine whether $9,900,000 11
was paid to the Prepaid MTS 911 Account by November 15 of each year for the prior
calendar year. If less than that amount was paid to the Prepaid MTS 911 Account,
the bill requires the BOE to determine the deficiency amount and bill each prepaid
MTS provider its pro rata share of that deficiency. The bill provides that the BOE
shall calculate the pro rata share of the deficiency based on each provider’s
percentage share of total California intrastate prepaid mobile telephony services
revenue.
To administer this provision, the BOE must identify each prepaid MTS provider, as
defined. Is this information readily available to the BOE? Do each of these prepaid
MTS providers have nexus in California?
The BOE must also determine each prepaid MTS provider’s pro rata share of any
deficiency based upon each provider’s percentage share of total California intrastate
prepaid mobile telephony services revenue. Since that information is not necessary
for the administration of the MTS surcharge, prepaid MTS providers may need to
submit a supplemental informational report.
However, BOE staff notes that PUC Section 319(f) requires carriers providing
prepaid MTS to report prepaid MTS revenues to the CPUC, including the intrastate
revenue portion subject to the CPUC surcharges and fee and total state wireless
revenue. Are the carriers, as referenced for Section 319(f), and prepaid MTS
providers, as defined in RTC Section 42004, one in the same? If so, BOE staff
suggests an amendment to Section 319(f) to require the CPUC to provide the BOE,
within 45 days of a request the following information for deficiency bill purposes: 1)
the name and address of each prepaid MTS provider, and 2) each provider’s
percentage share of total California intrastate prepaid mobile telephony services
revenue.
Additionally, the funding guarantee language does not contain a due date and billing
procedure for the prepaid MTS provider’s deficiency payments. Since the bill
requires the BOE to determine amounts owed by prepaid MTS providers in the case
of a deficiency, the BOE will also be required to bill and collect amounts due.
Lastly, the bill requires the BOE to determine whether $9,900,000 was paid to the
Prepaid MTS 911 account. This appears to include only MTS surcharge amounts
deposited or paid into the Prepaid MTS 911 account. Is the author’s intent to
disregard the net impact to the account after deducting BOE administrative costs?
Furthermore, should the deficiency calculation also take into account the additional
BOE administrative costs under the 911 Surcharge Act, which is funded by the State
Emergency Telephone Number Account, and bill prepaid MTS providers for that
expense?
BOE staff is willing to assist in drafting amendments to address any of these
concerns.
9. Service suppliers currently pay the 911 Surcharge for prepaid communication
services. The 911 Surcharge Act requires the BOE to enforce the provisions of that
Act and authorizes the BOE to prescribe, adopt, and enforce rules and regulations
11
The amount estimated as forgone revenue to the State Emergency Telephone Number Account (see Revenue
Estimate).
This staff analysis is provided to address various administrative, cost, revenue and policy
issues; it is not to be construed to reflect or suggest the BOE’s formal position.
Assembly Bill 1717 (Perea)
Page 16
relating to its administration and enforcement. In 2000, the BOE amended
Regulation 2401, Definitions, and adopted Regulation 2403, Prepaid Telephone
Calling Cards, to clarify the application of the 911 surcharge on dollar amounts or
value of minutes deducted upon use of prepaid telephone and mobile telephone
cards. These regulations were adopted to address confusion regarding the
application of the tax to prepaid services within the telecommunications industry.
In general, the service suppliers state they report the 911 surcharge consistent with
existing statutes and regulations. However, service suppliers argue that there is no
statewide mechanism to collect the same communications fees and surcharges
directly from prepaid wireless customers as are presently collected from post-paid
customers. As such, service suppliers state they are not reimbursed for the 911
surcharge or for CPUC end-user fees from prepaid customers.
The surcharge proposed by this measure only applies to prepaid wireless services.
Although the 911 surcharge applies to both prepaid calling cards and prepaid
wireless services, the CPUC-related charges apply only to prepaid wireless services.
Consequently, the MTS surcharge, which includes CPUC-related charges, applies
only to prepaid wireless services.
10. Should the entire 911 surcharge program be revamped for a MTS surcharge?
Along with concerns regarding the collection of the 911 surcharge on prepaid
wireless services, BOE staff suggests a thorough review of the 911 Surcharge Act to
determine a more up-to-date surcharge mechanism to provide a sufficient revenue
stream to fund the statewide emergency telephone number system.
This bill proposes to carve out a segment of the 911 Surcharge program (prepaid
wireless) and instead impose a prepaid MTS surcharge on retail sales of the service
that includes prepaid MTS and mobile data service. As discussed previously, the
prepaid MTS surcharge also includes CPUC-related charges and is imposed in
conjunction with the specified local taxes, fees, or surcharges.
This measure intends to address the collection of end-user taxes and fees directly
from the consumer where, generally, an established relationship does not exist
between the service supplier and consumer. This occurs when consumers purchase
prepaid MTS from traditional retailers rather than directly from a service supplier.
Without that direct relationship, service suppliers assert that they are unable to
collect the taxes and fees directly from the prepaid wireless consumer. On the other
hand, service suppliers are able to bill taxes and fees to cell phone consumers on
their monthly service bill (“postpaid” services). Consumers pay those taxes and fees
directly to the service supplier, who remits those amounts to the appropriate
government entities.
The current 911 Surcharge program faces many challenges that include prepaid
wireless services. Technology is rapidly changing, as are the devices and services
that provide access to the 911 emergency telephone system. Some of these
devices provide direct access to 911 with no intrastate telecommunication services
provided, such as 5Star Urgent Response and old, decommissioned cell phones.
Since these devices provide no intrastate telecommunication services, the 911
surcharge does not apply. As such, their use/service does not contribute to the state
emergency telephone number account.
Furthermore, surcharge revenues continue to decline because costly landline
services have given way to more economical wireless and other communication
This staff analysis is provided to address various administrative, cost, revenue and policy
issues; it is not to be construed to reflect or suggest the BOE’s formal position.
Assembly Bill 1717 (Perea)
Page 17
services, such as electronic mail and texting. As consumer behavior changes, so do
the services and products offered by carriers. For example, carriers may offer
prepaid unlimited data and text separate from prepaid voice service due to voice
service’s decline. Under such a scenario, the MTS surcharge would apply only to
the minimal per minute prepaid voice service, thus reducing the revenue estimated
to be generated by this bill.
11. MTS surcharge includes ancillary services. In its current form, the surcharge
consists of any and all state and locally authorized taxes, fees, and surcharges that
are applicable to mobile telephony services, as described. Except as provided,
the bill requires the surcharge to apply to the entire price if prepaid MTS is sold in
combination with mobile data services or any other service or products for a single
price.
The bill requires the MTS surcharge rate calculation to include the 911 surcharge
and CPUC-surcharge rates applicable to intrastate telephone communication
services, as determined by the OES and CPUC, respectively. However, the
application of the resulting MTS surcharge rate still includes ancillary services, such
as voice-mail service, data, and messaging (texting). Assuming no difference
between post- and pre-paid wireless service cost, MTS consumers will pay a higher
surcharge than post-paid wireless consumers since the 911 surcharge and CPUC
surcharges do not apply to ancillary services.
12. Suggested amendments. BOE staff had several concerns regarding the bill, which
have, for the most part, been addressed through last year’s AB 300 stakeholder
meetings and amendments.
Outstanding issues include the language that guarantees funding to the Prepaid
MTS 911 Account (see Comment 8). BOE staff also notes a missing word in
Section 42010(g). The subdivision should read as follows:
(g) The prepaid MTS surcharge that is required to be collected by a seller and
any amount unreturned to the prepaid consumer of mobile telephony services
that is not owed as part of the surcharge, but was collected from the prepaid
consumer under the representation by the seller that it was owed as part of the
surcharge, constitute debts owed by the seller to this state. The local charge …
charge.
On a technical note, BOE staff recommends an amendment to move all references
to local prepaid MTS from Part 21 (commencing with Section 42010) to Part 21.1
(commencing with Section 42101). Similar to the Uniform Local Sales and Use Tax
Law and the Transaction and Use Tax Law, the local provisions are contained only
within those laws, and the state Sales and Use Tax Law makes no mention of the
local taxes.
13. MTS seller’s recordkeeping and reporting would be complicated. For sales and
use tax purposes, MTS sellers likely hold seller’s permits, file returns, and report
applicable sales or use tax. In addition, prepaid MTS sellers might also sell tires,
covered electronic devices, lumber products, and tobacco products, all of which
impose a unique special tax or fee that existing law requires to be separately stated
on their customers’ receipt.
The various taxes require separate accounting records for MTS sellers that sell one
or more of these specific commodities, which increases their record-keeping burden.
Furthermore, a separate tax or fee statement on the customer receipt could result in
This staff analysis is provided to address various administrative, cost, revenue and policy
issues; it is not to be construed to reflect or suggest the BOE’s formal position.
Assembly Bill 1717 (Perea)
Page 18
additional retailer programming costs. However, this measure permits sellers to
retain 2% of the MTS surcharge and local charges collected to defray their collection
costs.
Furthermore, the Local Prepaid MTS Collection Act includes a UUT on the
consumption of prepaid MTS service and a local 911 charge. This would further
complicate a retailer’s recordkeeping and reporting if they have retail locations in
more than one jurisdiction that impose one or more local charges.
14. This measure imposes a MTS surcharge at the time of each retail transaction
for prepaid wireless services in this state. The bill states that a retail transaction
occurs in the state if the prepaid consumer makes the retail transaction at a retail
location in this state, or if the prepaid consumer makes a known-address
transaction, as described. A known-address transaction that occurs in this state
generally relates to an Internet-based or telephone-based transaction. In this case,
the seller likely transfers the prepaid wireless services to the consumer by:
•
Mail as a physical prepaid wireless card or a card bundled with a mobile phone;
or
•
Directly adding the prepaid minutes to the consumer’s device.
In a known-address transaction, the seller may be located in this state or outside this
state. It is questionable whether or not the state may legally require an out-of-state
MTS retailer, who has no physical presence in California, to remit the surcharge on
services sold to an in-state consumer. While service suppliers are currently
registered with the BOE for purposes of the 911 Surcharge, some prepaid MTS
sellers may be located outside this state even though they sell to California
consumers.
15. Lifeline exemption. This measure includes an exemption from the prepaid MTS
surcharge (not from local charges) on prepaid MTS purchased by a state or federal
lifeline-eligible consumer when purchased directly from a seller authorized to provide
such services. However, wireless providers are not currently authorized to provide
California LifeLine service programs, nor are federal lifeline discounts presently
applicable to prepaid wireless service plans.
In 2011, the CPUC opened a rulemaking proceeding to make changes to the
California LifeLine program. In December 2012, the CPUC revised the “basic
service” LifeLine definition to be technology-neutral; however, only landline providers
can comply with the basic service element requirements. In April 2013, the CPUC
commenced proceedings to consider whether or not wireless providers can provide
California LifeLine service, consistent with the revised basic service definition. The
initial phase of this multi-year proceeding is scheduled for completion within 18
months.
Also proposing changes to California LifeLine, AB 1407 (Bradford, 2013/14)
authorizes wireless providers to voluntarily offer California LifeLine service, as
described, and established a fixed LifeLine discount that an eligible customer may
apply toward any voice communication service. That measure was held under
submission in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
With respect to federal lifeline services, the CPUC has been evaluating proposals by
wireless carriers seeking Eligible Telecommunications Carrier (ETC) status to
provide federally funded discounted wireless service to low-income customers. To
qualify for federal universal service lifeline subsidies, a service provider must be
This staff analysis is provided to address various administrative, cost, revenue and policy
issues; it is not to be construed to reflect or suggest the BOE’s formal position.
Assembly Bill 1717 (Perea)
Page 19
designated as ETC eligible. There are currently four CPUC-approved wireless
providers that are authorized to offer federally-supported lifeline discounts in
California. The discounts are offered through specific cell phone plans offered by
Cricket Communications, Telcape Communications, Virgin Mobile USA, and Nexus
Communications. Although federal lifeline discounts are available to prepaid
wireless service plans, the California plans only include postpaid wireless service
plans.
The prepaid MTS surcharge lifeline exemption will become operative once California
and/or federal lifeline programs extend to prepaid wireless services. Although it is
unknown when, or even if, this may occur, the BOE must take steps to implement
the lifeline exemption (computer programming). The BOE staff is concerned about
successfully implementing the exemption without decisive legislation or completion
of the CPUC’s rulemaking process. The bill itself generically states that the
exemption “is applied only to the amount paid for the portion of the prepaid mobile
telephony service that the lifeline program specifies is exempt from the surcharges
and fees that comprise the prepaid MTS surcharge.” The bill doesn’t specify if
California LifeLine will apply as a flat discount, a percentage discount, or a reducedcost service plan, nor does it specific which service offerings it will include. What if
the application of California’s LifeLine program differs from the federal program?
Would the surcharge exemption apply based on whether the consumer is state or
federal LifeLine eligible? What if the consumer is eligible for both the state and
federal programs?
COST ESTIMATE
BOE administrative costs related to this bill are substantial. These costs include:
surcharge-payer identification, notification, and registration; regulation development;
manual and publication revisions; surcharge return design; computer programming;
return, payment, and refund claim processing; audit and collection tasks; staff training;
and public inquiry responses. A detailed cost estimate is pending.
As a point of reference, administrative costs associated with AB 300, which is nearly
identical to this bill, were estimated to be $11,391,000 for Fiscal Year (FY) 2014-15,
$11,937,000 for FY 2015-16, $13,211,000 for FY 2016-17, and $13,054,000 for FY
2017-18. These costs include administrative costs related to both the state MTS
surcharge and local charge components of this bill. The bill requires the BOE
administrative costs to be allocated on a pro rata basis according to revenues collected
for that portion that is for the 911 surcharge, CPUC surcharges and fee, and local
charges.
REVENUE ESTIMATE
BACKGROUND, METHODOLOGY, AND ASSUMPTIONS
Local MTS Revenue. BOE staff estimates $72,571,413 in additional local charge
revenue. BOE staff estimated the additional local charge revenue by calculating the
UUT weighted average rate (5.72%) and estimated UUT intrastate prepaid wireless
revenue ($1,268,731,007) through the use of 2012 sales and use taxable sales by city.
For detailed calculation information, see Table 2.
Current Prepaid Wireless CPUC & 911 Surcharge Revenue. The BOE 2011-12
Annual Report indicates that 911 surcharge revenues were $83.3 million, and the
surcharge rate was 0.5 percent. This implies a tax base of $16,660.000 million (83.3 /
0.05 = 16,660.000). Industry data show that 58.4 percent of this amount is wireless,
This staff analysis is provided to address various administrative, cost, revenue and policy
issues; it is not to be construed to reflect or suggest the BOE’s formal position.
Assembly Bill 1717 (Perea)
Page 20
which implies a tax base for wireless sales of $9,729.440 million (0.584 x 16,660.00 =
9,729.940).
The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) 16th Mobile Wireless Competition
Report (FCC report) specifies the prepaid wireless market penetration (subscriber
number) at 21.6%. A review of industry data suggests that prepaid subscribers tend to
have lower incomes than postpaid subscribers and purchase relatively more voice
services and less text and data services than postpaid users. Based on our research,
we believe that a reasonable assumption is that average voice revenue per user
(ARPU) for prepaid subscribers is about 63% of ARPU for postpaid subscribers. This
implies that prepaid revenues are about 13.6% of total wireless revenues (0.216 x 0.63
= 0.136). Calculations indicate prepaid services sales of about $1,323.204 million
($9,729.440 million x 0.136 = 1,323.204).
AB 1717 Estimated Prepaid Revenues
Current
Rates
Estimated CA Prepaid Wireless Revenue Base
Forgone
Revenue
AB 1717 Revenue
$1,323,203,840
$1,989,681,408
Estimated 911 Surcharge Revenue (Prepaid wireless):
0.75%
9,924,029
11,938,088
Estimated Prepaid Wireless ULTS Revenue:
1.15%
15,216,844
18,305,069
Estimated Prepaid Wireless DDTP Revenue:
0.20%
2,646,408
3,183,490
Estimated Prepaid Wireless CHCF-A Revenue:
0.18%
2,381,767
2,865,141
Estimated Prepaid Wireless CHCF-B Revenue:
0.00%
-
-
Estimated Prepaid Wireless CTF Revenue Remitted:
0.59%
7,806,903
9,391,296
0.464%
6,139,666
7,385,697
0.18%
2,381,767
2,865,141
3.514%
$46,497,383
$55,933,924
Estimated Prepaid Wireless CASF Revenue:
C
Estimated PUC User Fee (Prepaid wireless):
Total 911 and Public Purpose Surcharges and Fee
The table shows current surcharge and fee rates applied to the revenue base of
$1,323.204 million. As shown in the last line of the table, we estimate revenues to have
been about $46.497 million under current law. The table also shows our estimates of
surcharge revenues under the proposed new surcharge structure, totaling about
$55.934 million. The difference between current law revenues and AB 1717 revenues is
about $9.437 million.
Under this measure, certain surcharge-payers would receive a reimbursement of 2% of
surcharge revenues to cover their expenses. Retailers may receive the reimbursement,
but a seller that is a telephone corporation or the provider of prepaid MTS is not
authorized to deduct the 2% reimbursement. For the purpose of this estimate, we will
assume that 70% of the annual prepaid wireless revenue will be derived from noncarrier retail sales for which the seller is authorized to deduct and retain 2% of the
surcharge amount as retailer reimbursement. The reimbursement would total about
$0.783 million ($55.934 x 0.02 x0.70 = $0.783). If we account for the reimbursement,
the difference between surcharge revenues under current law and proposed law would
be reduced by this amount, resulting in a difference to about $8.654 million.
This staff analysis is provided to address various administrative, cost, revenue and policy
issues; it is not to be construed to reflect or suggest the BOE’s formal position.
Assembly Bill 1717 (Perea)
Page 21
REVENUE SUMMARY
This measure would generate approximately $55.934 million in gross revenue annually,
less (1) existing CPUC and 911 surcharge revenue on prepaid wireless services which
will no longer be imposed under this bill; and (2) the 2% in retailer reimbursement that
the bill authorizes certain third party sellers to deduct and retain as reimbursement for
their expenses.
In 2016, this measure could result in a net state revenue gain of $8.654 million
[($55.934 million - $46.497 million) - ($0.783 million = $8.654 million)].
Taking into account additional local charge revenues in the amount of $72.571 million,
this measure could result in a net state and local revenue gain of $81.225 million
($8.654 million + $72.571 million).
These figures do not take into consideration additional revenue lost under this measure
for reimbursement to the BOE for administrative costs, which are substantial (see Cost
Estimate discussion, above).
Qualifying Remark. For purposes of calculating the new MTS surcharge revenue, the
BOE assumed a MTS surcharge rate based on current rates x 80% California intrastate
revenue calculation. However, this measure requires the CPUC to determine a
methodology to calculate the MTS surcharge rate, which is unknown. Accordingly, the
new revenues generated by this bill could be higher or lower.
Furthermore, if the lifeline exemption becomes effective, revenues resulting from the
MTS surcharge likely will be reduced. However, we do not know the amount of the
reduction. Currently, the California LifeLine program does not extend to wireless
services. The issue of whether the California LifeLine program should extend to these
services is presently the subject of an ongoing proceeding before the CPUC. Because
the LifeLine program currently does not include wireless services, we do not know with
certainty when, or even whether, the lifeline exemption in this bill will be effective, nor do
we know the number of MTS providers that will participate in the California LifeLine
program or how the lifeline subsidy will be applied to wireless.
The revenue impact of the proposed amendments adding seller bad debt deduction
provisions to the Prepaid MTS Surcharge Collection Act is minimal.
The local UUT revenue of $72.571 million assumes that wireless carriers are not
currently collecting or remitting any local UUT charges, which is unconfirmed.
Analysis prepared by:
Revenue prepared by:
Contact:
ls
Cindy Wilson
Bill Benson
Michele Pielsticker
916-445-6036
916-445-0840
916-322-2376
06/04/14
1717ab0052814.docx
This staff analysis is provided to address various administrative, cost, revenue and policy
issues; it is not to be construed to reflect or suggest the BOE’s formal position.
Assembly Bill 1717 (Perea)
Page 22
Table 1 CA Prepaid Wireless Point of Sale Revenue Estimate Worksheet
FY 2011-12
34,892,000
FCC Reported Subscribers (Postpaid and Prepaid) as of December 2011
Estimated Prepaid Wireless Market Penetration
21.6%
Forecasted CA Prepaid Subscribers from FCC Data
less 20% inactive accounts/churn/lifeline
7,536,672
1,507,334
Forecasted CA paying prepaid Subscribers from FCC data
6,029,338
Estimated Monthly Revenue @ $27.50 ARPU
Estimated Annual Prepaid Revenue
Intrastate portion of prepaid
$
165,806,784
$ 1,989,681,408
80%
Statutory Rate of 911 fee
Rate adjusted for Intrastate using inverse FCC safe harbor
0.750%
0.600%
Estimated State 911 fee revenue
ULTS Statutory Rate
Rate adjusted for Intrastate using inverse FCC safe harbor
$
11,938,088
1.150%
0.920%
Estimated ULTS Revenue
CA Relay fee rate statutory rate
Rate adjusted for Intrastate using inverse FCC safe harbor
$
18,305,069
0.200%
0.160%
CA Relay fee revenue
High Cost A & B Funds statutory rate
Rate adjusted for Intrastate using inverse FCC safe harbor
$
3,183,490
0.180%
0.144%
$
High Cost A&B Funds revenue
California Teleconnect Fund statutory rate
Rate adjusted for Intrastate using inverse FCC safe harbor
2,865,141
0.590%
0.472%
$
9,391,296
0.1800%
0.14400%
PUC User Fee Revenue
California Advanced Services Fund statutory rate
CASF rate adjusted for Intrastate using inverse FCC safe harbor
$
2,865,141
0.4640%
0.371%
CASF Revenue
$
7,385,697
TOTAL STATE PUBLIC PURPOSE FEES, and 911 Fees
$
55,933,924
CTF revenue
PUC User Fee statutory rate
Rate adjusted for Intrastate using inverse FCC safe harbor
This staff analysis is provided to address various administrative, cost, revenue and policy
issues; it is not to be construed to reflect or suggest the BOE’s formal position.
Assembly Bill 1717 (Perea)
Page 23
Table 2 - Utility User Tax Information Summary Listing
City
Alameda
Albany
Alhambra
CUSTOMER
TYPE
Residential
Residential
Residential
Alhambra
Non-Residential
Arcadia
Arcata
Baldwin Park
Beaumont
Bell
Bellflower
Benicia
Berkeley
Burbank
Calabasas
Cathedral City
Ceres
Chico
Chula Vista
Claremont
Coachella
Colton
Colton
Compton
Covina
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Non-Residential
Residential
Residential
Cudahy
Residential
Cudahy
Culver City
Cupertino
Daly City
Desert Hot Springs
Dinuba
Downey
East Palo Alto
El Cerrito
El Monte
El Segundo
Elk Grove
Emeryville
Fairfield
Firebaugh
Gardena
Gilroy
Non-Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
UUT
Wireless
Rate
2012
Taxable Sales
'000
Taxable Sales by
Jurisdiction '000
7.5%
6.5%
5.0%
641,885
193,201
1,206,063
48,141
12,558
60,303
5.0%
5.0%
3.0%
3.0%
3.0%
10.0%
7.0%
3.5%
7.5%
7.0%
5.0%
3.0%
3.0%
5.0%
5.0%
5.5%
5.0%
8.5%
6.0%
1,206,063
842,411
200,589
537,527
334,876
166,872
446,426
552,805
1,423,376
2,716,027
503,929
648,817
473,310
1,592,290
2,501,497
301,708
302,053
533,221
533,221
638,615
693,698
60,303
42,121
6,018
16,126
10,046
16,687
31,250
19,348
106,753
190,122
25,196
19,465
14,199
79,615
125,075
16,594
15,103
21,329
31,993
54,282
41,622
3.75%
8.0%
11.0%
2.4%
5.0%
7.0%
7.0%
4.8%
5.0%
8.0%
6.5%
2.0%
2.3%
5.5%
2.0%
10.0%
5.0%
4.5%
104,515
104,515
1,598,763
2,238,924
924,908
128,734
389,248
1,359,727
283,831
273,354
1,258,498
909,939
1,612,796
684,192
1,526,410
83,651
787,607
1,209,176
3,919
8,361
175,864
53,734
46,245
9,011
27,247
65,267
14,192
21,868
81,802
18,199
36,288
37,631
30,528
8,365
39,380
54,413
4.0%
6.0%
This staff analysis is provided to address various administrative, cost, revenue and policy
issues; it is not to be construed to reflect or suggest the BOE’s formal position.
Assembly Bill 1717 (Perea)
Page 24
Table 2 - Utility User Tax Information Summary Listing, Cont.
City
CUSTOMER
TYPE
UUT
Wireless
Rate
2012
Taxable Sales
'000
Taxable Sales by
Jurisdiction '000
Glendale
Gonzales
Gonzales
Greenfield
Gustine
Hawthorne
Hayward
Hercules
Hermosa Beach
Holtville
Huntington Beach
Huntington Park
Residential
Residential
Non-Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
6.5%
4.0%
4.0%
3.0%
2.5%
5.0%
5.5%
6.0%
5.5%
5.0%
4.9%
9.3%
2,681,918
59,277
59,277
75,595
15,353
1,137,164
2,591,046
136,763
226,146
30,819
3,020,719
515,217
174,325
2,371
2,371
2,268
384
56,858
142,508
8,206
12,438
1,541
148,015
47,658
Indio
Residential
Inglewood
Irwindale
La Palma
La Verne
Lakewood
Lawndale
Long Beach
Los Alamitos
Los Altos
Los Angeles
Lynwood
Malibu
Mammoth Lakes
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Maywood
Residential
Maywood
Menlo Park
Modesto
Monterey
Monterey
Monterey Park
Monterey Park
Moreno Valley
Mountain View
Newark
Norwalk
Oakland
Orange Cove
Oroville
Pacifica
Non-Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Non-Residential
Residential
Non-Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
6.0%
8.0%
7.5%
5.0%
5.8%
3.0%
5.5%
5.0%
6.0%
3.2%
9.0%
9.0%
4.5%
2.5%
4.0%
7.0%
1.0%
5.8%
2.0%
5.0%
3.0%
5.5%
5.8%
3.0%
3.5%
5.5%
7.5%
7.0%
4.5%
724,256
1,047,205
327,839
484,516
343,984
1,118,400
226,193
5,234,132
231,750
209,680
40,123,926
301,919
244,135
146,774
107,714
107,714
536,345
2,614,619
695,704
695,704
410,932
410,932
1,275,922
1,340,658
816,920
827,283
4,031,912
14,210
321,069
164,804
43,455
83,776
24,588
24,226
19,779
33,552
12,441
261,707
13,905
6,710
3,611,153
27,173
10,986
3,669
4,309
7,540
5,363
151,648
13,914
34,785
12,328
22,601
73,366
40,220
28,592
45,501
302,393
995
14,448
8,240
5.0%
This staff analysis is provided to address various administrative, cost, revenue and policy
issues; it is not to be construed to reflect or suggest the BOE’s formal position.
Assembly Bill 1717 (Perea)
Page 25
Table 2 - Utility User Tax Information Summary Listing, Cont.
City
Pacific Grove
Palm Springs
Palo Alto
Paramount
Pasadena
Pico Rivera
Pinole
Placentia
Pomona
Port Hueneme
Porterville
Rancho Cordova
Rancho Palos
Verdes
Redondo Beach
Redwood City
Rialto
Richmond
Sacramento
San Bernardino
San Francisco
San Gabriel
San Jose
San Leandro
San Luis Obispo
San Marino
San Pablo
Sanger
Santa Ana
Santa Barbara
Santa Cruz
Santa Fe Springs
Santa Monica
Seal Beach
Sierra Madre
Soledad
South Pasadena
Stanton
Stockton
Torrance
Tulare
Vallejo
Ventura
CUSTOMER
TYPE
UUT
Wireless
Rate
2012
Taxable Sales
'000
Taxable Sales by
Jurisdiction '000
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
5.0%
4.5%
5.0%
3.0%
8.3%
4.5%
8.0%
3.5%
9.0%
3.8%
6.0%
2.5%
125,549
955,731
2,074,689
678,328
2,817,637
717,444
285,581
472,843
1,191,591
81,794
482,414
1,240,397
6,277
43,008
103,734
20,350
233,300
32,285
22,846
16,550
107,243
3,067
28,945
31,010
Residential
3.0%
4.8%
4.0%
8.0%
9.5%
7.0%
7.8%
7.5%
8.0%
4.5%
5.7%
4.8%
5.0%
7.0%
5.0%
6.0%
5.8%
8.5%
5.0%
10.0%
11.0%
10.0%
5.0%
7.5%
5.0%
6.0%
6.5%
6.0%
7.3%
4.5%
174,987
897,460
1,696,509
878,743
1,191,003
5,471,319
2,422,215
15,953,605
347,669
13,329,164
1,867,865
1,278,529
33,899
165,422
3,492,395
3,492,395
1,724,681
822,877
2,013,215
2,949,297
477,065
22,731
61,189
165,708
321,040
3,316,162
3,709,452
812,978
1,069,917
1,941,328
5,250
42,629
67,860
70,299
113,145
382,992
187,722
1,196,520
27,814
599,812
106,468
61,369
1,695
11,580
174,620
209,544
99,169
69,945
100,661
294,930
52,477
2,273
3,059
12,428
16,052
198,970
241,114
48,779
78,104
87,360
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Non-Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
This staff analysis is provided to address various administrative, cost, revenue and policy
issues; it is not to be construed to reflect or suggest the BOE’s formal position.
Assembly Bill 1717 (Perea)
Page 26
Table 2 - Utility User Tax Information Summary Listing, Cont.
CUSTOMER
TYPE
City
Westminster
Whittier
Winters
County of Alameda
County of Los
Angeles
UUT
Wireless
Rate
2012
Taxable Sales
'000
Taxable Sales by
Jurisdiction '000
Residential
Residential
Residential
Residential
4.0%
5.0%
9.5%
6.5%
1,242,341
720,805
37,792
25,181,571
49,694
36,040
3,590
1,636,802
Residential
4.5%
135,295,582
$356,058,621
6,088,301
$20,366,553
Totals
UUT Weighted Average Rate (Taxable Sales by
Jurisdiction/2012 Taxable Sales)
Statewide Total Taxable Sales 2012 (in thousands)
UUT Jurisdictions as a Percentage of Taxable
Sales (2012 Taxable Sales/Statewide Total Taxable Sales 2012)
5.72%
558,387,250
64%
AB 1717 State Prepaid Wireless Revenue
$1,989,681,408
Estimated UUT Intra-State Prepaid Wireless (UUT
Jurisdictions as a Percentage of Taxable Sales x AB 1717 Intrastate
Prepaid Wireless Revenue)
$1,268,731,007
Estimated UUT Revenue
(Estimated UUT Intrastate Prepaid
Wireless x UUT Weighted Average
Rate)
$72,571,413
Number of
Jurisdictions =
131
This staff analysis is provided to address various administrative, cost, revenue and policy
issues; it is not to be construed to reflect or suggest the BOE’s formal position.
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