Tax hike beat down


Politics can make the Ultimate Fighting Championship look like a tea party. These days, Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick probably wishes she was in the octagon with Ronda Rousey, not stuck in Carson City. The Democrat’s beating would be much less severe.

Ms. Kirkpatrick has been pummeled since Wednesday, when she introduced her long-expected rewrite of Nevada’s live entertainment tax. The speaker proposed ending the levy’s split rate — 5 percent on large venues and 10 percent on small venues — and abolishing its many exemptions in favor of an 8 percent rate that extends into recreation and all other businesses that charge admission, from movie theaters to golf courses to gyms. She says the tax would bring in at least $50 million a year, which would go to public schools.

The loudest shrieks of opposition have come from Ms. Kirkpatrick’s left. Fellow Democrats who’ve long wanted to hammer Nevada businesses with a revenue-based or income tax are apoplectic that a caucus leader would suggest a new tax on families instead of corporations.

In fact, any kind of business revenue tax is about the worst policy idea the Nevada Legislature could come up with. Nevada needs jobs. It has the country’s highest unemployment rate. It leads the nation in job losses. If lawmakers are serious about getting people back to work, they shouldn’t tax job creation. The 2 percent margins tax that will appear on the November 2014 ballot, courtesy of the state teachers union, is already a wet blanket on economic development.

Ms. Kirkpatrick started this session by announcing her noble goal of broader tax reform, including the possibility of eliminating the state’s payroll tax and extending the sales tax into services. Getting away from taxing businesses and taxing more business transactions would help Nevada’s economy and its efforts to lure new employers here — especially if expanding the sales tax to services, recreation and entertainment resulted in a much lower overall tax rate.

But Ms. Kirkpatrick’s Assembly Bill 498 is less about reform and more about new money. What’s the nexus between taxing shows on the Strip and a resident’s workout? Additionally, the bill has been introduced far too late in the 2013 session to be subjected to adequate scrutiny — its first hearing is Tuesday, and it would have to pass less than two weeks later, by May 24, for lawmakers to have an opportunity to override Gov. Brian Sandoval’s promised veto, assuming the bill even makes it to his desk. And where are the money-saving government reforms that must be part of any discussion of tax increases?

Someone call Ms. Kirkpatick’s corner men to stop the bleeding.

 

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