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Nevada Legislature 2013:

Fun for all: Kirkpatrick revises entertainment tax bill


Cathleen Allison / AP

Nevada Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, talks in her office at the Legislative Building Carson City, on May 8, 2013. Kirkpatrick unveiled some of the details Wednesday of her long-awaited bill revamping Nevada’s live entertainment tax.

Updated Friday, May 31, 2013 | 7:29 p.m.

Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick says she’s heard concerns from constituents about her admissions and live entertainment tax.

The Democrat from North Las Vegas is no longer proposing to levy an 8 percent tax on things such as movies, gym memberships, greens fees, ski lift tickets and other entertainment. Instead, she introduced a new bill that keeps the 8 percent rate but restricts the application of the tax.

Legislators said they heard criticism from constituents about the original bill, Assembly Bill 498, and Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval had threatened to veto the bill.

The gaming industry, which is the major payer for the current live entertainment tax, welcomed Kirkpatrick’s bill.

“It goes a long way to streamline and clarify the statute,” said Greg Ferraro, lobbyist for the Nevada Resort Association, the organization representing the state’s major casinos.

At least some Republicans will have to vote with Democrats to meet the two-thirds majority requirement associated with the legislation.

Kirkpatrick said she’s talked to Sandoval and has attempted to address his concerns in the new bill. She also spoke with Republican legislators as she drafted the new bill.

“I’ve been working across the aisle addressing their concerns and I believe there could be support for it,” she said.

The impetus for the legislation remains in place in the new bill. Kirkpatrick had intended to clarify and rework the state’s live entertainment tax, which has a 5 percent rate for venues that accommodate more than 7,500 people and a 10 percent rate for venues with capacity for fewer than 7,500 people.

The bill levies an 8 percent tax on all venues plus an 8 percent tax on food and drink served at venues with capacity for fewer than 7,500 people.

It’s unclear whether the gaming industry will receive a tax break under the 8 percent rate.

Ferraro said that some casinos pay the 5 percent rate while others with smaller venues pay the 10 percent rate, so the new 8 percent rate would likely be “a wash” for the industry.

Besides changing the rate, the bill also tightens current exemptions from the tax. Currently, venues that seat fewer than 200 people are exempt. But the bill shrinks that exemption to a 50-person maximum occupancy.

It also removes the exemption for outdoor concerts, meaning that events such as Burning Man and the Electric Daisy Carnival would be subject to the 8 percent tax on ticket prices.

The Las Vegas Motor Speedway also loses an exemption unless it brings a second annual race to the venue, a move that NASCAR is considering now.

The tax would also extend to tour guides and escorts, although the bill explicitly states that the word “escort” doesn’t mean somebody who advertises, solicits or provides “acts of sexual conduct to a patron.”

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