Readers of VoxFairfax are likely unaware that they are micro-economically wealthier than other Virginians who regularly purchase print newspapers at the supermarket or convenience store. Retail sales of newspapers incur a sales tax of 6%, which adds about $70.00 per year to the cost of reading, for example, The New York Times on a daily basis.
At some measure, this is a not insignificant cost levied to participate in available information, news, and opinion. No similar tax exists for subscription home delivery of The Washington Post or the Wall Street Journal. Information/news/opinion by way of television or social media are not taxed at the point of consumption.
At this moment, the great political forces of the major parties are preparing, Sumo-style, to wrestle with a potential tax windfall due to the tectonic shift of the federal tax rates and their effect upon the state’s tax scheme. Creating a retail sales tax exemption for print newspapers in the Commonwealth is an itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny perturbation among the millions at stake.
Are there any members of the General Assembly who might focus their laser vision on this matter and eliminate this sales tax to create equity among print media? There could be editorial applause in it for sponsors.
Editors’ Note: This issue is not new. See Taxing Newspapers Tests Press Freedom, The Christian Science Monitor, September 25, 1990. https://www.csmonitor.com/1990/0925/zntax.html