AG, Dems Push Bill to Drop B&O Tax for Certain News Media Outlets
A Democratic Senator, at the urging of WA State Attorney General Bob Ferguson (and Gov. Inslee in the background), are pushing a bill that would exempt certain media outlets from paying Business and Occupation taxes.
Bill would exempt newspapers
According to information released by the AG's office:
"Newspapers currently pay a reduced B&O tax rate, but that preferential tax rate expires in July of 2024. Consistent with the Legislative Auditor’s recommendation, Senate Bill 5199/House Bill 1206 expands the preference to fully eliminate the B&O tax for newspaper publishers and printers. This legislation also extends the same rate to exclusively online news outlets that provide a similar public benefit as printed papers."
Ferguson claims he is asking for this legislation as part of his effort to promote and defend Democracy, and "combat polarization, misinformation, and extremism."
According to information from the legislators, newspapers now make up only one-quarter of current US media outlets, and they say between 2005 and 2020, WA state newspapers lost 67% of their newsroom employees.
Certain other media outlets will also qualify
For a digital (online) news source to qualify, here's the criteria
- "The organization has at least two, but no more than 50 Washington employees, at least one of whom creates content for the publication.
- The organization’s primary business activity is creating and publishing eligible digital content.
- Content is published at regular intervals, at least once every three months.
- The outlet primarily features written content, and most of that content identifies the author or original source."
The bills will have their first hearing Thursday morning at 10:30 AM and will be streamed live by TVW.