Maine broadcasters get DTV tax break

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Maine broadcasters have received an exemption from sales taxes for equipment
purchases related to the digital-television transition.

The legislature overrode Gov. Angus S. King's veto Wednesday.

According to the Bangor Daily News, it is only the second time in
nearly eight years that the legislature has been able to get the two-thirds
votes necessary to override a veto.

The bill, LD 457, passed 109-30 in the House and 28-7 in the Senate.

There's some dispute as to how much the exemption from the 5 percent sales
tax will cost the state.

King estimated that the loss to the state will be between $1.1 million and $2
million, but Suzanne Goucher, a broadcast lobbyist, put the loss at around
$650,000.

One of the arguments broadcasters made was that they wanted tax parity with
the state's newspapers, which are exempted from sales tax on major purchases
such as printing presses.

The governor, however, felt that the exemption could be expanded to apply to
all transmitting equipment used not only by television stations, but cable-television companies and radio stations. Those potential losses made the
exemption veto-worthy.

"All we were saying was level the playing field and give us the same tax
break everybody else gets," Goucher told the Bangor Daily News after the
vote. "And they agreed."

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