Telecommunications Companies That Must Register With the California Secretary of State

Most telecommunications companies providing these communication services are required to register with the California Public Utilities Commission. This includes programs addressing:

  • Telephone service
  • Communications services (VoIP, broadband, internet, text messaging)
  • Relay service
  • Phone services (wireless and prepaid)

These regulations fall under California’s universal service programs:

  • California Advanced Services Fund (CASF)
  • California High Cost Fund A (CHCF-A)
  • California High Cost Fund B (CHCF-B)
  • California Lifeline (ULTS)
  • California Teleconnect Fund (CTF)
  • Deaf & Disabled Telecommunications Program (DDTP)

Companies must submit an application, have the fee paid and approved by the CPUC prior to rendering services.

The Registration Process

There are three (3) different service types available for communications service providers in the State of California.

  • Facilities-based local service providers and VoIP providers
    • These entities should complete the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) Application and submit one original and 6 copies of the required fee to the California Public Utilities Commission Docket Office by hand, mail, or through the CPUC E-file System.
  • Non-Dominant Interexchange Carriers (NDIEC), or telephone providers without long-distance or phone card services, and non-facilities-based VoIP providers
    • These providers should submit the Simplified Registration application with one original, six copies, and the required fee to the California Public Utilities Commission Docket Office by hand, mail, or through the CPUC E-File System.
  • Commercial Mobile Radiotelephone Services (CMRS) Carriers
    • These carriers are required to submit the Wireless ID registration form with one copy to the California Public Utilities Commission Communications Division, WIR Registration with 1 copy delivered by hand or mail.


Fees associated with each application are subject to change. The CPUC User Fee website should be consulted prior to submission for the most accurate Annual User Fee. Applicants are also advised to review the Public Utilities Code, Rules of Practice and Procedure, and General Order 96-B for draft tariff information.

Required Telecom Taxes by the California Public Utilities Commission

California’s communications services tax varies based on the city at a rate between 0.5% and 11%.

  • Additional taxes and fees by the local government like the utility user tax, and the Universal Service Fee by the United States Federal Communications Commission FCC apply.
  • The Telecommunications and User Fee Filing System is used to report and remit surcharges and user fees collected from monthly charge bills to the CPUC.

Renewal for California Telecommunications Companies

In most cases, California does not require telecommunications companies to renew registrations, but they must file tariff reports. They will, however, be notified when CTF participants are required to recertify and their results to receive a CTF discount. Carriers must refer to the entity eligibility status list to ensure all participants are compliant.

Telecom Tax Exemptions in California

There are no tax exemptions unless they violate federal or state statutes, the U.S. or California’s Constitutions. Discounts are available by the California Teleconnect Fund (CTF) on eligible advanced telecommunications services for telecom carrier program participants.

How to File a Voluntary Disclosure Agreement in California

The California Department of Tax and Administration (CDTFA) Voluntary Disclosure Program allows anonymous filing back of taxes from out-of-state businesses to provide an opportunity to file those taxes and avoid further penalties.

If any of these apply, you don’t qualify:

  • Your business has registered with the Secretary of State
  • Your business filed a return in California
  • Your business received a filing notice

Businesses that do not qualify may file a Filing Compliance Agreement. If you do qualify, send an Application for a Voluntary Disclosure Agreement (FTB 4925) by regular or express mail to the State of California’s Voluntary Disclosure Program.

When approved, the business representative receives filing instructions and a written agreement to sign. The tax period agreement will terminate under the following conditions:

  • Misrepresentation of facts
  • Failure to file returns or pay taxes
  • Understating tax liability
  • Not complying with California law
illustration-4 (2)

Conquer California Telecom Tax Requirements Once and For All

If you need assistance registering, reporting, or managing your California telecom tax, contact the experts at FAStek today. 

Our experienced agents have worked with many telecommunications companies in California, and have the expertise to help you conquer communications tax once and for all.