Legislative Alert: July 22, 2020


Subject: Urgent AAF Alert - DC Ad Tax Update

AAF DC and National Leaders:
Just a quick update on the situation in Washington, DC.  At the end of the City Council session yesterday, consideration of the budget was officially tabled until 11:30 am tomorrow (Thursday), largely because of the controversy over the proposed ad tax. 
The budget staff has been directed to find $18 million in new revenue and/or budget cuts to be able to eliminate the ad tax. While a substantial number of Councilmembers expressed their discomfort with the ad tax, it is no sure thing that the staff’s option will be accepted.
We know there are many advocates urging the Council to accept the budget as is, with no budget cuts and including the ad tax. It remains very important that Councilmembers hear from the advertising and business community about the importance of eliminating the ad tax.  Whether you live in or out of the district please contact them TODAY. Email addresses and Twitter handles are available on their City Council Bio pages. The DC Chamber of Commerce has also created a handy tool that will allow you to email every Councilmember at once.
Thank you for your continued help with this important work.
The tax on advertising should be opposed because:

  • 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 print and online 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.


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