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New tax rules to be written

Anne Knowles

The Nevada Tax Commission is expecting plenty of public scrutiny when it begins meeting this week to draft the regulations that will turn the new tax bill into reality.

“We are expecting a lot of requests for clarification,” said Barbara Smith Campbell, chair of the commission and Mandalay Development controller.

The gaming industry, for one, is likely to ask the commission to more clearly define banks and other financial institutions that will be subject to the higher 2 percent payroll tax.

The gaming industry is concerned that the language used in the bill passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor may inadvertently include large holding companies such as the ones that own some of the bigger casinos.

“I think it’s much ado about nothing,” said Senator Dina Titus (D-Clark County), the Senate’s minority leader, who said she is confident the commission can work out any ambiguities in the law if they exist.

Campbell said such clarifications are part of the normal tax process.

She said the commission turns to both the Attorney General and the Legislative Counsel Bureau for advice, and the LCB, has final approval of new regulations.

“The LCB will bless the final draft and turn it back to us for adoption,” said Campbell.

The commission is holding its first meeting today to discuss the new tax law.

“We thought the sooner we could get started the better for everyone,” said Campbell.

“We need to give people as much time as we can to get their books ready.”

The commission, made up of eight citizens appointed by the governor, usually meets monthly, but Campbell said the panel hopes to convene weekly until October when the new taxes go into effect.

To do that, the group plans to deem them emergency regulations in order to shorten the notice time required.

The commission’s meetings fall under public meeting rules that have specific requirements about public notice.

Those rules also mandate public comment time, at which industry as well as citizens can add their two cents.

The commission, in an unusual move, is also working to put the meetings on the Internet for anyone to view.

Once the taxes take effect, a new legislative tax committee will continue to watch them.

The new tax bill, Senate Bill 8, established the Legislative Committee on Taxation, Public Revenue and Tax Policy to continue to look at the state’s tax structure and to monitor the revenue brought in and how it’s distributed.

“It will look at a lot of things,” said Titus.

“Exemptions will be a top priority.

Any problems with the draft legislation.

Watching the healthcare exemption.”

The healthcare exemption is part of the new payroll tax being imposed on the state’s businesses.

The levy, which replaces the existing head tax, is on an employers wages minus healthcare insurance premium costs.

Other exemptions the committee will likely study are the myriad exemptions from the real estate transfer tax.

The exemptions both create excessive work for county recorders and often protect businesses from paying the tax on some the largest real estate transactions in the state.

The committee will consist of eight legislators appointed by the legislature’s leadership.

Titus said she will appoint Sen.

Bob Coffin (D-Clark County), who served on both the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Taxation Committee during the last session.

The total committee will likely be announced next month.