La. looking at taxing media advertising buys

As the state continues to look at ways to expand the tax base to offset the revenue lost by the proposed elimination of personal and corporate income taxes, the Jindal administration is considering charging sales tax on media advertising purchases, says Department of Revenue Secretary Tim Barfield. The featured guest on 89.3 WRKF’s The Jim Engster Show this morning, Barfield acknowledged, “There’s historically been a lot of resistance to taxing news media … and for very good reason.” Nonetheless, he says: “We haven’t ruled anything out, but we also haven’t said that we’re definitely going to tax that yet. Those are decisions that we’re embarking on this week.” Though some states have toyed with the idea of applying a sales tax to media advertising—and some have implemented such a tax only to see it later repealed—none currently has one, Engster says. The radio host, who pressed Barfield on the issue this morning, adds that the last time Louisiana considered such a tax was in 1934 at the urging of Gov. Huey Long, and “it was viewed then as a tax on free speech.” Engster, who’s also president of the Louisiana Radio Network, concedes that the tax would raise “a lot of money” in new revenue for the state. The American Advertising Federation of Baton Rouge is “strongly opposed” to such a tax, says federation President Hunter Territo. “The type of tax would increase the overall cost of advertising,” he says, which would “have a negative impact not only on the advertising agencies in town but also on the overall economy—less advertising, less sales, fewer jobs.” You can find the complete podcast of today’s show featuring Barfield here. —Steve Sanoski

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