Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, Democrat, North Las Vegas
David Goldwater, lobbyist
BY AMY KINGSLEY -- If you’ve ever bought a ticket to Cirque du Soleil, or purchased admission to a nightclub on the Strip, then you’ve probably paid it. But if you prefer events like NASCAR or the Electric Daisy Carnival, then you probably haven’t.
We’re talking about the Live Entertainment Tax, which applies to some performances and recreation activities, but not others.
Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick is behind an effort to close loopholes in the law to make it apply to everything from rock concerts to golf fees.
“Forty-four other states have similar admissions tax across the state,” Kirkpatrick said.
Right now, the law has too many loopholes that allow venues to avoid paying their fair share, she said.
“One-hundred-and-thirty-five -million dollars of the Live Entertainment Tax comes primarily from the Las Vegas Strip – that’s the bulk of it,” Kirkpatrick said. “As far as some of the things that we see, golf memberships, you know. Folks are paying $700 a month for their membership dues. In other states, that is part of the admissions tax. At least at my house, $700 would have to be extra in order to have that livelihood or that hobby.”
Critics have derided the bill as the “Family Fun Tax.” The promoter behind Electric Daisy Carnival has threatened to leave the state. The Electric Daisy Carnival brought an estimated $207 million to Southern Nevada, according to a report commissioned by its parent company.
Kirkpatrick said she is open to all input on the bill. But she said that Electric Daisy Carnival enjoys several economic benefits from its location in Southern Nevada.
“Here in Nevada, they are able to get three times the amount of a ticket as they do in other parts of the state,” Kirkpatrick said. “They are able to have a three-day minimum requirement. In other parts of the nation, they pay higher rates than they do here.”
Everyone needs to pay a little bit to help the state make ends meet.
“We need venues to be part of our community so we can pay for the vital services,” Kirkpatrick said.
David Goldwater is a lobbyist who testified against the bill. The current entertainment tax is flawed, he said, but includes vital exemptions for big events that benefit Nevada’s economy.
“You get to tell working families that go to NASCAR races that they don’t have to pay,” Goldwater said. “And young adults that attend the Electric Daisy Carnival, they don’t have to pay this extra tax. And lastly, I feel, and this hasn’t been proved, it’s a hope, that it drives other taxes. So, for every dollar you don’t pay in admissions tax, at 8 percent currently, you’re going to pick up in sales tax at 8.1 percent. It’s fuel tax, room tax, gaming tax.”
The legislature should not eliminate all exemptions, but keep the ones that promote economic activity, Goldwater said.
“Sometimes the legislative policy is we want certain behavior to occur,” Goldwater said. “We don’t want working families to pay this tax. We don’t want people who enjoy outdoor concerts to pay this tax.”