Local author loses first claim in challenge against Charlottesville tax law

Updated: Oct. 2, 2020 at 5:55 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A Charlottesville judge spent nearly two hours Friday morning listening to arguments on whether a city business licensing tax that applies to freelance authors was unconstitutional.

Lawyers representing Corban Addsion, a local author who writes books through his company Regulus Books, brought two arguments before the court in a hearing on motions for summary judgement.

The first claim was that the taxes Regulus Books were subjected to were unconstitutional since similar businesses like newspapers were not subjected to them. The second claim was that the wording in the tax law was vague and it was unclear whether authors should be subjected to the tax.

The judge ruled against Addison’s lawyers on their first claim but postponed making a decision on the second one. Keith Neely, a lawyer with the Institute for Justice, was one of the attorneys representing Addison. He says he thinks a law that treats an author differently from a newspaper that violates the First Amendment.

“We think that this is a First Amendment Violation. We are disappointed with the court’s decision today. We don’t think the city ought to be able to tax some speakers and not others. And we think a taxpayer should be put on reasonable notice on when they will be taxed.” said Neely.

Neely says they may appeal depending on the outcome of the court’s ruling on the second claim. NBC29 tried to speak with the attorneys representing the city of Charlottesville, but they declined to speak on camera.

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