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."

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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.

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