The Impact of Charity and Tax Law and Regulation on Not-for-Profit News Organizations

The Impact of Charity and Tax Law and Regulation on Not-for-Profit News Organizations, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, March 2016

121 Pages Posted: 27 Mar 2016

See all articles by Robert Picard

Robert Picard

University of Oxford - Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism

Valerie Belair-Gagnon

Yale University - Information Society Project

Sofia Ranchordas

University of Groningen, Faculty of Law

Adam Aptowitzer

Drache Aptowitzer, LLP

Roderick Flynn

Dublin City University

Franco Papandrea

University of Canberra - Communications and Media Policy Institute

Judith Townend

School of Law, Politics and Sociology, University of Sussex ; Information Law and Policy Centre, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies

Date Written: March 23, 2016

Abstract

Since the advent of the Internet, numerous media organizations have been forced to adopt new business models and convert into not-for-profit start-ups or hybrid entities. However, not-for-profit news organizations have faced an important challenge: outdated legal frameworks that were not designed to facilitate the development of digital journalism. This report inquires whether the legal systems in which they operate provide a conducive environment for charitable media and whether it can help explain their development. The legal qualification of news organizations as charities and the conferral of tax-exempt status are necessary to gather the necessary public support for their activities. However, in a number of jurisdictions, not-for-profit media outlets are often confronted with long-established legal frameworks that do not include journalistic activities within the concept of ‘charitable status’. These news organizations thus face significant delays and uncertainties during the process of obtaining tax-exempt status.

This report contributes to the evolving debate on not-for-profit news start-ups by examining legal systems that determine whether charitable and tax exempt status and a variety of benefits associated with them can be granted. This report compares and contrasts legislative frameworks and policies, and assesses how they affect both the development of startups and existing news organizations that would like to become charities and gain tax-exempt status. It also provides an overview of best regulation practices in an attempt to tackle legal and societal challenges that need to be addressed.

The study draws on the regulatory systems in five countries: Australia, Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom (England and Wales), and the United States.

Keywords: not-for-profit law, nonprofit media organizations, journalism, tax law, tax-exemption, charity

JEL Classification: E62; L82; G18

Suggested Citation

Picard, Robert and Belair-Gagnon, Valerie and Ranchordas, Sofia and Aptowitzer, Adam and Flynn, Roderick and Papandrea, Franco and Townend, Judith, The Impact of Charity and Tax Law and Regulation on Not-for-Profit News Organizations (March 23, 2016). The Impact of Charity and Tax Law and Regulation on Not-for-Profit News Organizations, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, March 2016. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2754832

Robert Picard (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism ( email )

13 Norham Gardens
Oxford, OX2 6PS
United Kingdom

Valerie Belair-Gagnon

Yale University - Information Society Project ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States

Sofia Ranchordas

University of Groningen, Faculty of Law ( email )

Oude Kijk in 't Straat
Harmoniecomplex
9700 AS Groningen, Gn 9712
Netherlands

HOME PAGE: http://www.rug.nl/staff/s.h.ranchordas/

Adam Aptowitzer

Drache Aptowitzer, LLP ( email )

Canada

Roderick Flynn

Dublin City University ( email )

Ireland 9
Dublin 9, leinster 9
Ireland

Franco Papandrea

University of Canberra - Communications and Media Policy Institute ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2601
Australia
+ 612 6201 5083 (Phone)
+ 849 0417 5360 (Fax)

Judith Townend

School of Law, Politics and Sociology, University of Sussex ( email )

Falmer
Brighton BN1 9QN
United Kingdom

Information Law and Policy Centre, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies ( email )

Charles Clore House
17 Russell Square
London, WC1B 5DR
United Kingdom

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