Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger has penned a long piece for the Inside Guardian.co.uk blog about the newspaper’s tax status and its relationship with funding bodies the Scott Trust and Guardian Media Group.
It makes for interesting reading for anyone curious about the tax issues facing large, loss-making media organisations, or the affiliate revenue streams that keep them running, or the measures in place for making sure editorial content is not unduly influenced by the business dealings that provide for it.
Individual columnists – and even leader writers – may well disagree with some aspects of how the parent company has run itself over the years. Commercial colleagues may likewise fundamentally disagree with the views of the paper and its writers. The point of the trust is to allow each to operate independently. It seems an odd argument that individual Guardian journalists, who have no part in business decisions, should refrain from covering tax avoidance, or should feel inhibited in expressing their views.
Should bloggers making money from their site have to pay a business tax?
It’s a question that’s been doing the rounds in the past week, following what commentators have been labelling a “tax amnesty” in Philadelphia. Thousands of online writers have reportedly received letters from local government reminding them that if they make money from their site, they must pay up.
Any bloggers earning revenues from their online publishing – through display advertising or services such as Google Adsense – will be asked to pay $300 (or $50 a year) for a Business Privilege Licence. Alternatively, they can remove any advertising or other money-making means and have their blog classified as a hobby.
Control of the media is dominated by a handful of publishers and broadcasters and the proceeds of tax for sites, such as Google, that carry news, but do not produce it, should go to local newspapers, a new report will say this week.
The report argues for levies to promote new media and encourage a diversity of news sources. Recycling money in this way, say the authors, is not new for Britain. Google could generate £100m a year for cash-starved media if it was taxed for the content it distributes.
In Making a Good Society, the report from the Commission of Inquiry into the Future of Civil Society, which will be published this week, the idea of charitable funding for news gathering is also discussed.
Nigel Simmons FCCA, managing director of Acconomy Limited, is on hand on the Journalism.co.uk forum to answer questions on tax from freelance journalists, whether its getting started with VAT or moving to the UK from abroad.
The advice contained in the tax advice section is intended as general guidance relating to a generic situation. No responsibility can be accepted by the author for actions taken by readers as a result of reading the advice given.
Readers should always seek professional advice from their own advisors who will be aware of client’s particular circumstances.