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Minneapolis Star Tribune Company v. Commissioner

Minneapolis Star Tribune Company v. Commissioner

 

Minneapolis Star Tribune Company v. Commissioner: The Background

Minneapolis Star Tribune Company v. Commissioner was a landmark Supreme Court case that was initially heard in 1980. The fundamentals of the case revolve around the Minneapolis Star and Tribune Company, a publisher of a popular morning and evening newspaper in the city of Minneapolis. From 1967 to 1971, this company was exempt from state sales and use tax that was commonly provided to producers of periodic publications. In 1971, the state legislature imposed a “use tax” on the cost of ink products and paper consumed during the publishing process. In 1974, the state legislature exempted the first $100,000 worth or paper and ink consumed a year. After the enactment of this exemption, the company found itself paying approximately two-thirds of the total revenue raised by the tax.

Minneapolis Star Tribune Company v. Commissioner: The Question

The question revolving around Minneapolis Star Tribune Company v. Commissioner asked whether or not the taxing scheme enacted by the state’s legislature violated the freedom of press right guaranteed by the First amendment to the United States Constitution.

Minneapolis Star Tribune Company v. Commissioner: The Decision

The Supreme Court in Minneapolis Star Tribune Company v. Commissioner ruled 8 to 1 in favor of the Minnesota Star & Tribune Company. The Court ruled that while the First Amendment did not bar all regulation of the press, the state had implemented a special tax that applied only to certain publications protected by the Constitution. The Justices reviewing Minneapolis Star Tribune Company v. Commissioner  stated that was substantial evidence that unique taxation of the press would have bothered the Framers of the First Amendment.

The case of Minneapolis Star Tribune Company v. Commissioner was an opinion of the United States Supreme Court that effectively overturned the use tax on ink and paper in excess of $100,000 consumed in any year. The ruling held that special taxes imposed on paper and inks are unconstitutional under the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution.

On its face, the ruling in Minneapolis Star Tribune Company v. Commissioner found that state tax systems cannot treat media companies differently than any other business without substantial or significant justification. The state of Minnesota in Minneapolis Star Tribune Company v. Commissioner demonstrated no such justification to rightfully impose a special tax on a select few publishers. Therefore, the ruling in Minneapolis Star Tribune Company v. Commissioner  stated that the tax was in violation of the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of the press. 

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