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Analyst says Nevada voters made a mistake by approving Question 4

Nevadans overwhelmingly voted for ballot Question 4, which would exempt certain medical equipment from the sales tax, on Nov. 8. Jeremy Aguero with Applied Analysis said that was a mistake.

“I think this is a wonderful idea,” Aguero said. “But this is the wrong way to do it.”

The measure requires lawmakers to exempt oxygen machines, hospital beds, wheelchairs and other medical equipment prescribed by a health provider from state sales tax, which currently stands at 6.85 percent. Because it is a proposed constitutional amendment, approval requires passage by voters again in 2018.

“In concept, the idea of exempting medical equipment from the sales tax serves a clear public policy end, which I understand and appreciate,” Aguero said via email. But writing carve-outs into the constitution makes tax laws less flexible, “which I believe weakens them in the long run,” he said.

Ideally, Nevada ought to be broadening the sales tax base and lowering the sales tax rate, he said.

“However, that is easier said than done, as there are very real, very valid policy considerations in determining what should or should not be subject to the tax,” he said.

During a panel discussion at the Four Seasons last week about what to expect following the presidential and state elections, Aguero told a crowd of about 150 that the vote will have long-term consequences.

“We are writing this into our constitution,” he said. “It will take two elections, two votes of the people, in order to remove it.” He later added that this process already creates “a hurdle that does not exist” for other forms of state and local revenue in Nevada.

“We need to be very careful as a state of going down this particular path,” he said.

Contact Nicole Raz at nraz@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4512. Follow @JournalistNikki on Twitter.

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