City is dusting off an old tax law and applying it to billboard advertisers in Times Square for the first time in decades, in a move that will raise at least $18 million for the city.
The city government said it will begin collecting a 6% commercial rent tax on 22 companies that advertise on outdoor signs, mostly concentrated in New York’s iconic Times Square, reported the
New York Post
The commercial rent tax has been on the book for years, but was previously only applied to office leases, never billboard advertisers.
administration under Mayor Michael Bloomberg discovered the loophole during audits last year, leaving it to the new administration under Mayor Bill de Blasio to actually collect the levy.
Times Square advertisers are less than pleased. The NYP
quoted George Lence, a lobbyist for the Times Square Advertising Coalition, as saying: “The tax has been around for
nearly 50 years – it has never been applied to advertising.”
NYC isn’t the only big city trying to juice its revenues with a tax on outdoor advertising —
although other municipalities are finding it a bit tougher to raise the dough.
Last week, a federal judge gave the green light to a lawsuit brought by Clear Channel Outdoor against
the city government of Baltimore after the latter imposed a fee on billboard operators to the tune of $5 per square foot for static billboards and $15 per square foot for digital displays. The CCO
lawsuit alleges that the law, passed in June of last year, represents an attempt to illegally regulate commercial speech in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
and city council of Baltimore asked to have the lawsuit tossed but last week the motion was rejected by Judge George L. Russell, III, allowing Clear Channel’s legal challenge to the law to go