EDITORIAL: Show us the money

If we were to list every federal tax and fee on these pages, we’d need a few weeks to complete the task. There are so many taxes flowing into Washington that not even the IRS can keep track of them all.

We know this because Review-Journal gaming columnist Howard Stutz reported as much last week. Lee Amaitis, chief executive officer of sports book operator CG Technology, asked Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., to look into the federal handle tax imposed on every sports wager in Nevada. The 0.0025 percent levy generated $9 million for Washington last year, and Mr. Amaitis wanted to know how it was being spent.

“It’s not that I didn’t want to pay the tax,” Mr. Amaitis told Mr. Stutz. “I just wanted to know where the money went.”

But Rep. Titus couldn’t find out. Her legislative director, David Rosenbaum, questioned the IRS for months. The agency had no idea what the money supported or where the money came from.

“The IRS didn’t even know it existed,” Rep. Titus said.

Let that sink in for a moment. We’re going to print Rep. Titus’ statement again, in italics, for full effect.

“The IRS didn’t even know it existed.”

“The money just went into some black hole in the general fund,” Rep. Titus said.

So credit Rep. Titus for responding appropriately. She introduced a bill last month to repeal the tax.

“It can be reinvested into Nevada’s economy,” Rep. Titus told Mr. Stutz. “Gaming is our lifeblood, and this is a drop in the bucket to Washington.”

This begs an incredibly important question: How many other federal taxes are essentially invisible? And how many millions — or billions — of dollars could remain in the private economy to create jobs if it weren’t sent off to the “black hole” Rep. Titus referenced?

“We’re a donor state, not a recipient,” Mr. Amaitis said. “Why isn’t the money staying here? It’s a small amount of money for the federal government, but it’s not a small amount of money for our state.”

Rep. Titus shouldn’t have a problem winning support from the Republican majority in the House. Perhaps Nevada Republican Reps. Joe Heck and Mark Amodei could help with that.

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