Newhouse seeks bipartisan tax breaks for newspapers

For the Basin Business Journal | August 9, 2020 1:05 AM

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Yakima, is co-sponsoring a bill that would provide tax breaks to local newspapers, newspaper subscribers and the businesses that advertise with them.

“Local journalists and newspapers are essential to ensuring the public remains informed,” Newhouse said. “Local news is crucial – particularly within our rural communities in Central Washington – and our local journalists provide in-depth perspectives that inform their readership regarding local current events.”

“Big cities may have strong papers, whereas smaller, perhaps more rural towns’ papers might be struggling with journalistic output,” said Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., the bill’s co-sponsor. “We need to support local journalism and provide papers with options — after all, they are fundamental to American daily life and deserve to be treated as such.”

Small newspapers were already facing stiff competition from online advertising when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Newhouse and Kirkpatrick have authored the Local Journalism Sustainability Act, which aims to offer a series of tax credits “aimed at sustaining and providing a pathway to viability” for hard-pressed small newspapers across the country, according to Newhouse spokesperson Elizabeth Daniels.

To address this, the bill proposes a tax credit up to $250 for taxpayers who subscribe to local newspapers, defined as a newspaper where “51 percent of the readers” reside in a single state or U.S. possession, or an area with a 200-mile radius.

The bill also proposes a refundable tax credit up to $12,500 on the employer’s portion of Social Security and Medicaid for each journalist at a local newspaper, and a non-refundable tax credit up to $5,000 for small businesses that advertise with local newspapers.

“By providing tax credits for readers and local businesses and by empowering our local journalists, we can begin to help our newspapers remain resilient and continue to provide important information and updates to our rural communities,” Newhouse said.

The goal of the act is to “encourage Americans to subscribe to local publications, help those publications retain and compensate journalists, and provide businesses and publications alike with much-needed advertising dollars,” Daniels added.