The Local News Payroll Tax Credit Explained

Congress may include support for local news in the Build Back Better Act — a significant payroll tax credit for community newsrooms to retain or hire local journalists.

Drawn from the Local Journalism Sustainability Act, here’s how the local news tax credit works:

The Benefit:  Newsrooms get a refundable tax credit for five years, a cash benefit, of up to $25,000 in the first year and $15,000 in years two through five for each full time local journalist. The benefit amounts to 50% of a local journalist’s compensation up to a $50,000 salary in the first year, and 30% of the salary in the last four years.

Who Qualifies: News organizations that cover local communities and have at least one full-time local journalist

Eligible Local News Publications or Stations:

  • “The primary purpose of which is to serve a local community by providing local news”
  • Has been publishing or broadcasting for at least a year
  • Is covered by media liability insurance
  • Discloses its ownership to the public
  • Not owned or funded by a political advocacy group

Local Journalist:

A full-time employee engaged in the “gathering, preparing, directing the recording of, producing, collecting, photographing, recording, writing, editing, reporting, presenting, or publishing original local community news for dissemination to the local community”

You can read the full provision here.

The Impact: Here’s a case study of how the Local Journalism Sustainability Act would help one publication, the Baltimore Afro-American.

Take Action: Contact your Senator and urge them to include the local news tax credit in the Build Back Better Act! Do you have a local reporter in your city that you trust? Tell your senator about the value you think they add to your community. Did you get involved with an issue or cause because you heard about it in the local press? Great! Make sure your representatives know! Click here to find their information. Be sure to include their social media handles when you Tweet!