Dow Jones Sues Texas; Says Taxing The Wall Street Journal Is A First Amendment Violation
from the tax-the-ink dept
Apparently Texas has a bizarre tax law, in which newspapers don’t have to pay sales tax, but where newspapers are very specifically defined as “being printed on newsprint, distributed in short intervals, disseminating the news, with an average sale price that doesn’t exceed $1.50.” Having that price point in there seems like a really strange static number. Of course, due to inflation, the Wall Street Journal and the NY Times have both increased their cover price such that they’re over an average of $1.50, and the state government, so desperate for tax money, declared that both newspapers are no longer newspapers, and must now pay sales tax. Dow Jones paid the tax, but is now suing the state, claiming that the tax code represents a First Amendment violation.
While this may sound silly, there is a pretty strong basis for the lawsuit. There have been a few Supreme Court cases that cover similar grounds, including Minneapolis Star v. Minnesota Comm’r which found that a tax on ink for newspapers was prior restraint and a violation of the First Amendment and Grosjean v. American Press Co., Inc., where the Court found that a tax on newspapers that had a circulation of 20,000 was similarly a restraint on the First Amendment. It seems like the Texas tax is pretty similar to both of those situations…