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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
Smart Voter
Los Angeles County, CA November 4, 2008 Election
Measure G
Telephone Users Tax Update
City of Long Beach

Ordinance - Majority Approval Required

Pass: 84,503 / 59.92% Yes votes ...... 56,521 / 40.08% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Information shown below: Impartial Analysis |

Without raising current tax rates, shall an ordinance be adopted to help preserve funding for critical City services, including police and fire protection, paramedic and emergency response, street maintenance, parks, youth services, and libraries, by updating the telephone users tax to include new and evolving technologies so that all taxpayers are treated equally regardless of technology used?

Impartial Analysis from Robert E. Shannon
City Attorney
Measure G would ratify and update the City’s existing Utilities Users Tax (“UUT”), so that it may be applied equally to both older telephone technology and to newer telecommunications technology at the current tax rate of 5%, while continuing to exempt low-income seniors and disabled persons.


A UUT is a tax levied on each user of a utility within the City’s boundaries. Since 1970 the City has imposed a telephone users’ tax on persons using telephone service in the City. The tax is based on the telephone user’s monthly usage, collected by the telephone provider and conveyed to the City. UUT revenues are paid into the City’s general fund to finance such services as police, fire, street repair, parks, libraries and recreation programs.

The current tax rate is 5% of the charges billed. Measure G will not increase the 5% tax rate.

In past years, the City of Long Beach, like most California cities with telephone UUTs, relied on definitions provided by federal law to describe which specific telephone services are covered by the City’s UUT. Recent interpretation of these federal law definitions has changed. This changed interpretation created uncertainty in the application and scope of the City’s UUT. As a result, the Long Beach City Council adopted an Ordinance amending its UUT, which addressed these problems. This measure would ratify that Ordinance and thereby update the City’s UUT law by eliminating references to the federal law definitions. It would also further amend the Ordinance to assure that the UUT will be applicable to emerging and rapidly changing communications technologies.

Measure G

  • Would ratify an Ordinance previously adopted by the Long Beach City Council, which removes references to outdated federal law definitions from the City’s telephone UUT.
  • Would include new definitions to address new technologies and treat all telephone customers equally, whether they use traditional landline telephones, cell phones, or some future mode of communication services.
  • Would not increase the current tax rate of 5%. Voter approval will be required for any future tax increase.
  • Would not apply to digital downloads, such as books, music, games and similar products, or cable or video television services that are instead subject to State and Federal franchise fees.
  • Would not change current federal law which prohibits taxing the Internet.
  • Would maintain existing exemptions for low-income seniors and disabled persons.

Measure G requires approval of a majority of voters. A “yes” vote for Measure G will ratify the City’s current UUT and approve the updates described above. A “no” vote against Measure G will reject the proposed amendments to the UUT Ordinance, thus continuing the UUT in its present form.

  Official Information

City of Long Beach
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Created: January 24, 2009 10:34 PST
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