Nevada lawmakers examining entertainment tax

Senator Ben Kieckhefer of District 16 applauds the Governor Thursday night in Carson City.

Senator Ben Kieckhefer of District 16 applauds the Governor Thursday night in Carson City.

Nevada lawmakers are taking the first step toward reworking a live entertainment tax that many complain is confusing and riddled exemptions.

The Senate Revenue Committee is scheduled to hear an educational presentation Friday afternoon on the tax, which generally applies to concerts, shows and sporting events, but includes a lengthy list of exemptions: boxing matches, NASCAR races, minor league baseball games, certain concerts.

“It’s not consistent,” said North Las Vegas Democratic Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick, who has been trying to change the tax for years and is one of the presenters Friday. “Some people are exempt, some people pay it. The law is very convoluted in terms of interpretation.”

Reno Republican Sen. Ben Kieckhefer said there’s wide support for simplifying the tax structure, but a bill stalled last session because it was brought up late in the session and had flaws. “Last session was frustrating because of the timing. We were hearing a bill that wasn’t going to pass,” he said.

This year’s discussion is starting the first week of the session, and Kirkpatrick said she has worked out some kinks in the previous proposal, such as the question of taxing movie tickets.

Roberson said the Friday talk is likely to lead to a bill sometime in the session. Gov. Brian Sandoval did not include changes to the tax in his budget proposal, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be one of the funding mechanisms for his spending plan.

“The governor and I talk regularly, and we both agree it’s great to vet all tax ideas out there,” Roberson said, adding that the sales tax and a potential services tax would be considered on Tuesday. “Ultimately, the Legislature has got to find consensus on a revenue reform package that’s going to fund the governor’s budget.”

Kirkpatrick said the advantages of the live entertainment tax are that it targets spending on luxuries and typically hits tourists.

“It really is about someone having the extra discretionary dollars to spend,” she said. “If you can spend $800 on a festival ticket, another $10 ain’t gonna hurt you. If you can spend $1,000 at the nightclub, what’s $20 more?”


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