State Audit: Broadcasters Owe $15 Mil. In Taxes And Penalties

State broadcasters may have to pay as much as $15 million in back taxes and penalties unless a bill now in the Ways & Means Committee of the Massachusetts House of Representatives prevails.
Following an audit of virtually every network affiliate and independent TV station in the Boston, Springfield and Worcester markets, the Massachusetts Department of Revenue has determined that the state’s broadcasters must pay the 5 percent sales tax on all programming received in “tangible form” from 1990 to 1996.
“The inequity of this is that the network-affiliated stations received virtually 95 percent of their programming from satellites,” said Ron Wayland, president of the New England Broadcasting Association in Boston, which is vigorously opposing the ruling. “The [independent stations without network affiliations] had to receive their programming by Fed Ex or U.S. mail. The vast majority is going to be absorbed by these formerly independent stations,” he added.
The bill, which would exempt broadcasters from paying those taxes and penalties, will come up for consideration in the House of Representatives when the next legislative session opens in January.