Legislative Alert: July 6, 2020


Subject: DC Ad Tax–Action needed ASAP

AAF DC and Ad 2 DC Leaders:
AAF has just learned that District of Columbia City Council Chair Phil Mendelson is planning on introducing a 3% ad tax tomorrow to help balance the District’s budget.
It is very important that Councilmembers hear from local advertising executives about how counterproductive and harmful a tax on advertising would be and why it should be rejected.  A thriving advertising industry will be an important part of the city’s economic recovery.

  • Placing a tax on advertising services and/or placement increases the cost of advertising. Because most clients operate on a fixed advertising budget, they will compensate for the tax by decreasing their advertising purchases. This will have a direct—and negative—impact on the advertising industry, economy, consumers and the District.
  • Advertising is the primary source of revenue for the print media and the sole source for broadcasters. A reduction in advertising would inevitably result in a loss of jobs and a decreased ability to provide quality content and programming.
  • Advertising is the engine that fuels the economy. Less advertising means fewer sales. Fewer sales mean reduced revenue and fewer jobs. Fewer sales also result in less sales tax revenue for the District.
  • Consumers will suffer. Advertising is an important source of information. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark Virginia Pharmacy case noted that to many people, the information in advertising is more important than news about current issues.
  • Prices may rise. Studies show that advertising fosters competition and helps lower the price of products and services. Less advertising means less competition.
  • National advertising dollars will leave District media. Marketers will move dollars to Maryland and Virginia media outlets that reach DC customers.

Contact information for District Councilmembers can be found here.
Please contact Councilmembers ASAP and urge them to oppose any tax on advertising—and circulate this alert to other members of the club.  I will keep you informed as we learn more.  Thank you for your work in defense of advertising.  Please let me know if you have any questions or hear back from any members of the Council.


Clark Rector
Executive Vice President-Government Affairs
American Advertising Federation
1101 K Street, NW, Suite 420
Washington, DC  20005