Business Tax on Freelance Writers Heads to Virginia Supreme Court

Taxes are a subject of democratic accountability.Charlottesville, Virginia decided in 2018 that freelance writers required a business licence. On local writers who did not have a license, or had paid taxes for business licenses previously, the government imposed back taxes totaling thousands of dollars. Since then, the city and two novelists had been fighting over it for many years. The state’s Supreme Court is now considering the issue.

The writers—Corban Addison and John Hart—are both being represented by the Institute for Justice (IJ). Addison, Hart, as well as IJ, are suing the county and city seeking a refund for the taxes they paid on business licenses. IJ also seeks a declaration that the fees and licenses were not constitutional under the First Amendment. 14th Amendments.

It City and County business codes cover dozens of occupations but don’t mention writers, who therefore had no notice that they would be taxed,” IJ noted last year. “What’s more, other kinds of media like newspapers and magazines are specifically exempted.”

“It felt like the law wasn’t designed to tax me,” Addison told CBS 19 News. “But instead, the ministerial agent here, the Commissioner of the Revenue, just decided willy-nilly in 2018 to start taxing authors using a provision that wasn’t designed to tax me.”

In January 2021, a state circuit court ruled that applying thebusiness license tax to freelance writers was unconstitutional. “The City has argued that [Addison] provides a service or business to his publisher. The Court disagrees. The Court finds the argument that [Addison] provides a service to this publisher to be forced, strained, or contrary to reason,” wrote 16th Judicial Circuit Judge Claude Worrell, Who rejected the First Amendment claim but accepted the 14th Amendment–based argument that the law was unconstitutionally vague.

After the city filed an appeal, this matter was brought before the Virginia Supreme Court. (Hart’s suit against Albemarle County has been put on hold in the midst of this appeal.

John A., city attorney, stated that “It is the intention of the City Council for any business operated within the City, except specifically exempted to the contrary, to be taxed.” Rife spoke to the Court Wednesday. According to Rife, the Court was told Wednesday by Rife that, contrary what the lower court suggested, it’s impossible for us to name all occupations.

Renee Flaherty, an IJ lawyer, argued that authors were being unfairly taxed by the city. Daily Progress reports:

Flaherty stated that interpreting Flaherty’s ordinance makes the license tax an income tax which Virginia municipalities can’t impose.

She stated that if the city wants to tax non-employment income of anyone who file a Schedule C it is stretching a tax on business licenses and making it more complicated. Taxes are a subject that requires democratic accountability. Many people plan their lives around tax liability.

Keith Neely (IJ attorney) said it. Daily Progress, “this idea that the taxes should be clear, and that they should put individuals on notice that they’re subject to the tax, are important principles.”


Supreme court considers Miranda warnings. You have the right not to speak. Everything you say in court can and will come back against you.An attorney is your right. And so on… Many Americans who have never been arrested can cite at least part of what’s known as a MirandaWarning by heart thanks to the recitation of it on television crime dramas. Miranda rights —established by the 1966 case Miranda v. Arizona—now seem an immutable and fundamental part of the U.S. justice system.

However, are these warnings protected constitutionally? In a Los Angeles police case, the U.S. Supreme Court has been examining this issue.

The question was raised in a civil right case filed by Terence B. Tekoh. Terence B. Tekoh was a hospital attendant accused of sexually abusing an immobilized person receiving an emergency MRI. The New York Times.

Carlos Vega (deputy sheriff of Los Angeles) interrogated Mr. Tekoh.

Although the two men had starkly different accounts of what happened during the interrogation, it was clear that Mr. Vega didn’t give the Miranda warning and that Mr. Tekoh signed a confession admitting the assault. A state trial judge also admitted the confession to evidence, or that a jury acquitted him.

The lawsuit was filed by Mr. Tekoh against Mr. Vega pursuant to Section 1983, an 1871 federal civil right law that permits citizens to sue officials of the state, police officers included, for violations of their constitutional rights.

Tekoh v. Vega, Case No. 21-499 was complicated by facts that disputed whether Mr. Tekoh had been held in custody that would have required a warning, or been subjected to coercion. According to Mr. Vega, his lawyers stated that Mr. Tekoh was remorseful and contrite and that he wrote the confession in no time.

Paul L. Hoffman (a lawyer representing Mr. Tekoh) gave a different account Wednesday. Hoffman claimed that Mr. Tekoh said he had been locked in for about an hour. He is being berated by an officer who has his gun in his hand and threatened with deportation.

They considered whether Mr. Tekoh had the right to sue even if his story was correct. The constitutional status Miranda had been criticized in the 1980s, ’90s, and an attempt by Congress to change it.

You can find the complete transcript of oral arguments here.


Don’t blame millennials in the housing crisis caused by government policies.The rents and home prices have gone up, while the number of homes available for purchase has fallen to record levels. There are intense bidding wars. According to Catherine Rampell, the resultant housing crisis is due to millennial “Zoom towns”, particularly in low-cost regions. The Washington Post.

The problem, apparently, is NotOver the last decade, there has been an inordinate amount of new construction. Exclusionary zoning, NIMBYist opposition to denser and more affordable housing is also a factor. It doesn’t matter that the state tax laws reward homeowners who stay put with a large number of bedrooms, rather than downsizing after retirement.

Don’t ignore persistent supply chain problems or tariffs, which has increased cost and construction time.

The problem is not us young (ish). whippersnappers. After we reached our peak childbearing years, we decided to provide a shelter for our kids. Now, millennials are being accused of not being able to launch.

ReasonRampell identified several factors that are responsible for the current housing crisis. These include exclusionary zoneing and tariffs. You can read more at:


Kentucky’s abortion law was stopped by a judge.U.S. District Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings blocked Kentucky’s abortion law temporarily in a Thursday ruling. The state’s two abortion providers—Planned Parenthood and EMW Women’s Surgical Services—have sued over the measure after pausing operations in the wake of its passing.

The AP reports that both clinics said Thursday they will resume offering abortion services. Jennings’ orders did not deal with the bigger issue of constitutionality. The order stayed focused on claims by the clinics that the new law is not constitutional. She said that the judge’s order doesn’t prevent the state from creating regulations.


• The Supreme Court says Congress can exclude Puerto Ricans from some federal disability benefits. “Just as not every federal tax extends to residents of Puerto Rico, so too not every federal benefits program extends to residents of Puerto Rico,” wrote Justice Brett Kavanaugh in the court’s 8–1 opinion.

• A cop who arrested a high school student on dubious “terrorizing” charges cannot be sued over the incident, a federal court says.

• Attention, New York–area JustificationReaders: Join us on Monday May 2nd for live tapping Nick Gillespie talks about The ReasonThis video is featuring Ideas Beyond Borders cofounders Faisal Said al Mutar, and Melissa Chen. Ideas Beyond Borders provides free ebooks that allow Middle East citizens to access works on pluralism, science and critical thinking. Tickets cost $10. More details here.

• In France, the “authoritarian establishment faces off against the even uglier authoritarianism of the far right,” explains Veronique de Rugy.

• Transportation masking rules “serve as a good example of how prudent measures can turn into little more than symbolism,” writes Tom Nichols at Atlantic.

• Reason TV interviews rationalist libertarian sex worker and data scientist Aella: