Recent guidelines issued by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue and the Department of Local Services present a direct threat to Access Centers across the state.
This new guidance, set to be enforced in July of 2018, will require all funds that come in as a result of the local cable franchise to be handled by the local municipality using one of two accounting options:
The implementation of either of these options can immediately entitle the municipality to take accounting fees up to 15% of the revenues received. Worse, the municipality may be tempted to use this funding for something other than its intended use. This requirement is unnecessary and puts centers in a position where they will need to fight for funding already earmarked for their operation.
The Department of Telecommunications has repeatedly issued guidance that the funds received from municipal cable franchises are exclusively for cable related purposes, not as a municipal slush fund. The Department of Revenue should not create new regulations; they should enforce the existing regulations.
Any direct interconnection of municipal finance and Access Media funding will hurt independent media. Because of this threat, MassAccess has set up a special subcommittee and is raising funds to hire legal representation specializing in municipal revenue law who will also lobby the DOR on our behalf. We intend to strategize and ultimately present our concerns and objections to the new Commissioner of the DOR.
Massachusetts Community Media, Inc. (MassAccess) is a 501c(6) non-profit organization. Membership dues and contributions paid to MassAccess are not tax deductible as charitable contributions.
Contributions to MassAccess will be fully allocable as nondeductible lobbying and/or political expenditures in the year 2017, and therefore, may not be deducted as ordinary and necessary trade or business expenses.