This week the AFL-CIO endorsed the Local Journalism Sustainability Act, a bill that would provide tax credits to help subscribers, local businesses and, most importantly, local journalists.
The largest federation of unions in the United States wrote to Leader Chuck Schumer, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal on Friday, commending Senator Maria Cantwell and Representative Ann Kirkpatrick for introducing the legislation.
The bill is a “lifeline for these essential community institutions as they struggle to provide the information their readers rely on during the current national emergency, and to set local news outlets up for a successful recovery,” Government Affairs Director William Samuel wrote.
The federation urged Congressional leaders to “advance the Local Journalism Sustainability Act in any possible upcoming legislative vehicle.”
The Local Journalism Sustainability Act would provide a much-needed boost to save local news jobs. The erosion of local news puts our democracy at threat of extinction. The NewsGuild enthusiastically supports this plan to save local news.
Journalist Compensation Credit
The bill provides for a Journalist Compensation Credit that would give local newspapers, local digital-only news publications and commercial and public broadcasters the ability to hire more dedicated journalists to improve their coverage by granting a five-year credit of up to $25,000 in first year and up to $15,000 in subsequent four years.
The credit could be used to cover 50% of compensation up to $50,000 in first year, and 30% of compensation up to $50,000 in subsequent four years.
Journalists must work a minimum of 100 hours per quarter to qualify as eligible employees.
Local Newspaper Subscription Credit
A subscription credit would incentivize people to subscribe to local newspapers.
A five-year credit of up to $250 annually could be used to cover 80% of subscription costs in the first year and 50% in the subsequent four years. To receive the full $250 credit, a subscriber would have to spend at least $312.50 in the first year, and $500 each of the following four years.
The credit could be applied to non-profit publications if the publication is the non-profit’s primary activity.
Local Newspaper and Local Media Advertising Credit
Small businesses would be eligible for tax credits for advertising in local newspapers and media.
A five-year credit of up to $5,000 could be granted in the first year and up to $2,500 in the subsequent four years.
The credit would cover 80% of advertising costs in the first year and 50% in subsequent four years. To receive the full $5,000 in the first year and $2,500 in subsequent four years, businesses would have to spend at least $6,250 and $5,000 respectively.
Small businesses may utilize this credit to advertise with local television and radio stations, as well as to local newspapers.