ACLU: Rhode Island discriminates against nonfiction writers

photo by areta ekarafi/Flickr

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island has sued the state on behalf of nonfiction writers, saying a sales tax exemption for authors is unconstitutional because it only applies to works of fiction.

The federal suit filed Tuesday argues that making a distinction between fiction and nonfiction violates the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

A state law enacted in 2013 exempts from the sales tax “original and creative works” sold by writers, composers, and artists residing in Rhode Island. The ACLU says the state’s taxation agency has concluded that nonfiction books are not “original and creative works.”

A Department of Revenue spokesman in a statement said the department had not received notice of the lawsuit and does not comment on pending litigation.

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