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Grosjean v. American Press Co.

Pro And Con: Taxing Newspapers

Special taxes imposed upon newspapers by state or federal governments may be unconstitutional. Newspapers are subject to taxes, as are any other type of business. Some states assert a right to impose an additional tax, applicable only to newspapers. For example, in Louisiana a 1934 law imposed a tax upon newspapers that sold over 20,000 copies per week. The tax was connected to the gross revenue the newspaper received from advertisements.

This sort of taxation, uniquely applied to newspapers, has a long history of misuse in this country. The British crown tried to restrict American colonists' freedom of press by imposing such a tax with the Stamp Act. The First Amendment prohibits the government from imposing restrictions upon the press, and this sort of tax is clearly designed for that purpose. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled this sort of tax unconstitutional.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1918 to 1940Grosjean v. American Press Co. - Significance, Court Strikes Down Tax As Unconstitutional Prior Restraint, Pro And Con: Taxing Newspapers