We’re coming to our readership somewhat hat in hand — asking our friends to help by conveying their support to federal legislators for a bipartisan proposal meant to help newsrooms operating through some very trying times.
Following is a summary of the measure with some explanation. We’d ask that if you agree, you forward your approval to our congressional delegation and ask them to support passage of the proposal.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused economic damage across virtually every sector of our economy. Local newspapers and media outlets already faced financial challenges before this crisis and have had those challenges exacerbated.
In light of this, the Local Journalism Sustainability Act proposes a series of three tax credits aimed at bolstering local newspapers and media:
1. Credit for Local Newspaper Subscriptions. This five-year nonrefundable tax credit of up to $250 per year would help cover the costs of subscriptions to local newspapers, defined as print and online publications which primarily produce content related to news and current events and which have a majority of their readership within the publication’s state of operation or within 200 miles.
The credit would cover 80 percent of subscription costs in the first year and 50 percent of subscription costs in each of the subsequent four years. So if a reader spends $200 on subscriptions in a year, they would be eligible for a $160 credit in the first year and a $100 credit in each of the following four years.
2. Payroll Credit for Compensation of Journalists. This five-year refundable tax credit would provide local newspapers (utilizing the same definition as above) a credit to use for the compensation of journalists. The credit may be used on compensation up to $50,000 a year.
The credit would cover 50 percent of compensation, up to $50,000, in the first year and 30 percent of compensation, up to $50,000, in each of the subsequent four years.
A local newspaper may claim up to $25,000 per journalist in the first year and up to $15,000 per journalist in each of the following four years.
3. Credit for Advertising in Local Newspapers and Local Media. This five-year nonrefundable tax credit would provide businesses with less than 1,000 employees up to $5,000 in the first year and up to $2,500 in each of the subsequent four years to spend on advertising with local newspapers and local media.
The credit would cover 80 percent of advertising costs in the first year and 50 percent in each of the next four years. To receive the full $5,000 in the first year, a business would have to spend at least $6,250 on advertising in local newspapers and local media. To receive the full $2,500 in any of the next four years, a business would have to spend at least $5,000 on advertising in local newspapers and local media.
The Appeal-Democrat, like most community newspapers/newsrooms, has struggled to maintain resources since the onset of the pandemic. This bill, which doesn’t hand out money, but instead offers tax credits for doing business with us as subscribers and advertisers, could help us survive.
You can help by asking legislators to support the “Local Journalism Sustainability Act.”
Find contact links on their websites:
⚫ Congressman John Garamendi, 3rd District: garamendi.house.gov.
⚫ U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein: feinstein.senate.gov.
⚫ U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris: harris.senate.gov.
Our View editorials represent the opinion of the Appeal-Democrat and its editorial board and are edited by the publisher and/or editor. Members of the editorial board include: Publisher Glenn Stifflemire and Editor Steve Miller.