Goldwater calls for tax cut

For the second time in two days, an Assembly Democrat has proposed a tax cut.

Assemblyman David Goldwater, D-Las Vegas, said he hopes to introduce Friday his plan to cut the motor vehicle privilege tax in half.

His announcement followed the Tuesday call by Assembly Speaker Richard Perkins, D-Henderson, to exempt the first $50,000 assessed value of all homes and businesses from property taxes.

Both men argued their plans would benefit the individual and small business owner more than big corporations.

But both admitted their plans would cost the state millions in revenues when lawmakers are trying to fill a $700 million budget shortfall over the coming two years.

Goldwater said Wednesday his plan would cost $100 million in revenue that now goes primarily to local governments to build and maintain streets and roads. It would cut into Department of Motor Vehicles revenues even as Director Ginny Lewis is asking more money to shorten lines and wait times that annually cause thousands of public complaints.

Guinn's Deputy Chief of Staff Mike Hillerby said any reduction in revenue must be offset by an increase somewhere else.

"We need more revenue," he said. "Obviously we don't want to be giving up any of the revenue we have."

Goldwater said he still is working on ways to offset a revenue loss.

"I strongly believe that, as we cope with our budget shortfall and the need for new revenue, we must find ways to protect the average taxpayer and small business," he said.

Goldwater said he targeted the registration tax -- now called the governmental services tax -- because everyone who has a car pays it. The tax amounts to an annual property tax levy on the value of a vehicle paid at registration.

"We must take advantage of any opportunity we have to give people relief and this gives the ordinary working buy relief," he said.

He said he's still working on increases that would offset the lost revenues, but that he's aiming at exemptions and credits now enjoyed by some Nevada businesses.

High on his list, he said, is eliminating the exemptions newspapers have for taxes on newsprint and equipment, the "home office" credit that allows insurance companies based in Nevada to escape up to 80 percent of the insurance premium tax, and workman's compensation tax credits some companies now enjoy.

The plan proposed Tuesday by Perkins would exempt the first $50,000 of assessed value from the property tax, which he said would give a big break to homeowners and owners of small business properties but not much of a break to big business. He estimated it would cost about half of the $100 million a year Guinn's proposed 15 cent increase in property taxes would generate.

Hillerby said the governor welcomes all plans, especially those which broaden the base of taxpayers and distribute the burden more fairly. But he said he can't comment on the plans by Perkins and Goldwater since neither has been drafted in detailed form yet.

"Obviously we need to see the details and we haven't yet," he said.

As for Goldwater's idea, he pointed out that the governor's tax proposal calls for a thorough examination of existing tax exemptions and credits to see if some should be eliminated.

The vehicle privilege tax, he pointed out, mostly goes to local governments, not the state.

"Clearly, he's going to hear from local governments about that," he said.

Hillerby said he's glad some of ideas from lawmakers are finally coming out but that the administration still wants to see what business would propose.

"Now we need the business groups who say they want to pay their fair share of taxes, but they're just not sure which ones, to step forward to the table," he said.


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