Ohio court to hear NASCAR challenge of tax on broadcasts

Racing

A.J. Allmendinger takes the checkered flag winning the B&L Transport 170 NASCAR Xfintiy Series auto race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Saturday, June 5, 2021 in Lexington, OH. (AP Photo/Tom E. Puskar)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments in a case involving the state’s attempt to tax NASCAR for broadcasting its races in Ohio.

At issue before the court is whether the state tax commissioner properly subjected those broadcasts to Ohio’s commercial activities tax during an audit from 2005 to 2010. The tax requires payments on a company’s annual sales. Oral arguments have been set for Jan. 25.

The state argues its imposing of the tax is based on NASCAR’s commercial activity, meaning the organization’s sale of Ohio broadcast rights.

NASCAR could avoid the issue by excluding Ohio from its licensing contracts, the state said in a September court filing. “But as long as Ohio is included in its licensing agreements, Ohio is relevant to NASCAR’s receipts,” the Ohio Attorney General’s office said.

The Tax Commissioner determined NASCAR owed Ohio $549,520, according to court records.

Dayton Beach, Florida-based NASCAR maintains that its commercial activities in Ohio such as broadcasting races and selling merchandise are done by other companies—Fox Broadcasting Co., for example—which are taxed accordingly.

Applying the tax to NASCAR broadcasts in Ohio is “an unconstitutional expansion of tax liability for out-of-state content providers,” NASCAR argued in an August filing.

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