David Cay Johnston has responded to my post about his article about me, and I have written an additional response below his. One more point though, based on my conversation this morning with Jeff Cottrell of Tax Analysts, who returned my call there inquiring about a subscription to tax notes.
Me: How much is a subscription to Tax Notes?
Mr. Cottrell: $2000.
Me: Are there any discounts?
Mr. Cottrell: "That's the lowest subscription cost that we offer it to anybody."
Me: What if I can't afford $2,000?
Mr. Cottrell: Are you a practitioner? It could be a business expense.
Me: No, I'm not a practitioner, I am a member of the public. You are a non-profit that says your mission is to educate members of the public. I'm a member of the public and I'd like to be educated, but I don't have an extra $2,000. Are you saying I'm out of luck?
Mr. Cottrell: "We're a publishing company."
As I say in my response to Mr. Johnston, if there were a genuine public service mission, they wouldn't be charging $2000 to subscribers and hiding the content behind a pay wall. They'd be making the information freely available on the open internet to anyone who wants it, and raising money like other real charities, by seeking voluntary support from the public, rather than by selling expensive tax-deductable-as-a-business-expense subscriptions to tax professionals.
Mr. Cottrell made the case that Harvard is a non-profit, and it charges tuition of tens of thousands of dollars a year. But Harvard also offers financial aid scholarships to those who can't afford tuition. Non-profit hospitals that charge for expensive surgeries also offer charity care to those who can't pay. That's why they are non-profits.
Based on my conversation with Mr. Cottrell, I came away with the idea that Tax Analysts is not a charity with a mission of educating the public, but a tax-exempt business with a mission of educating tax professionals who have $2,000 to spend on a subscription as a business expense.