Tax talk to rule the week at Nevada Legislature
May 12, 2013
And you dread the April 15 IRS tax deadline? That's nothing compared to the fervor building at the Nevada Legislature.
Tax, taxes, taxes! Taxes on entertainment. Taxes on mining. Tax credits for filmmakers. Tax incentives. Tax abatements.
On the flip side are the looming questions: Who's gonna pay? Who's gonna skate?
With that in mind, here are a few things to know about the upcoming agenda as the Nevada Legislature begins the 15th week of session on Monday:
NO, YOU DO IT!
A bill to raise property and sales tax rates in Washoe County to fund capital improvements at aging schools has been a hot-potato all session. Assembly Bill 46 in its original form requires Washoe County commissioners to increase property taxes by a nickel per $100 of assessed valuation and raise the sales tax rate by one-quarter of 1 percent. Because it's a tax increase, the bill requires a two-thirds majority in both the Assembly and Senate — 28 and 14 votes, respectively. The prognosis for passage is not a given.
An amendment to the bill was floated, but not adopted, earlier in the session to "enable" the Washoe County School Board to impose the tax, instead of putting that onus on the Legislature. That would have skirted the two-thirds vote requirement. Now, the measure is back to its initial language. And it's up for a vote Monday by the Assembly Ways and Means Committee.
Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, has been on a mission to overhaul Nevada's exemption-riddled live entertainment tax that has let some big events such as NASCAR races and large outdoor concerts avoid ponying up. Kirkpatrick says it's a matter of fairness, and last week she unveiled AB498, the Nevada Entertainment and Admissions Tax. It would impose an 8 percent tax not only to attend NASCAR races, Burning Man and the Electric Daisy Carnival that draws hundreds of thousands to Nevada, but also to go see a movie, play golf or work out at a gym. Just about anything that requires an admission or membership fee is included. Expect a packed room when the Assembly Taxation and Senate Revenue committees hold a joint hearing on the bill Tuesday. Admission to that lively debate is free.
MINING FOR TAXES
Sen. Minority Leader Michael Roberson sees big bucks in them thar hills. And he's going digging for dollars dug by Nevada's gold and silver mine operators. The Henderson Republican and five of GOP Senate colleagues are poised to introduce a plan to raise the net proceeds tax on minerals paid by the industry to 10 percent, up from the constitutionally protected 5 percent cap that now exists. Roberson says the plan would bring in $600 million over a biennium to fund education. But there's a hitch or two. First, the measure is a proposed 2014 ballot question and would be contingent upon voters also approving SJR15 to remove the mining tax cap from Nevada's Constitution. SJR15 has been passed by the Senate but still awaits action in the Assembly before it goes to the ballot.
Assembly Republicans and Gov. Brian Sandoval are opposed to the Senate GOP plan, which is intended as an alternative to a 2 percent business tax that will also be on next year's ballot.
ET TU, MO?
As if all that wasn't enough. There's more tax talk to come. Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, said last week there are other components to the Democrats' tax plan still to be introduced. He's being tight lipped about what it will entail. But drafts are being reviewed, numbers are being crunched. Denis said all will be introduced "when it's ready."
It better be ready soon because time is running out. Monday marks the 99th day of the session. There's only three weeks until the witching hour of midnight, June 3, when unfinished dreams of tax reform will turn into post-session hangovers.
DON'T FORGET DEADLINES
Besides the weighty tax issues, lawmakers face the added pressure of another big deadline. All bills that are not otherwise exempt must clear the committee in the second house by Friday. That means bills that were introduced in the Assembly or Senate and made it through passage must be now be approved by the committee in the other chamber or become yet another relic of the 2013 legislative session.