Casino study knocks Nevada tax structure

CARSON CITY (AP) - The Nevada Resort Association claims a new study shows the state's tax structure depends heavily on the casino industry and exempts other businesses from their fair share of the tax burden.

The NRA's study, done by Arthur Andersen and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas' Center for Business and Economic Research, evaluates casino taxes, state expenditures on services, and population growth between 1990 and 1998.

Bill Bible, the association's president, said his group ''has felt for years'' the industry provides a disproportionate share of state revenue, and the study proves that.

Bible added Tuesday that the study was commissioned long before state Sen. Joe Neal, D-North Las Vegas, proposed his initiative to increase the tax rate on casinos generating more than $1 million in monthly revenue from 6.25 percent to 11.25 percent.

An estimated 107 casinos would be affected by Neal's initiative, and the rate increase would generate an estimated $388 million in additional revenue.

The proposal allocates the additional revenue to specific targets. Forty-five percent would go to public schools and 38 percent would go toward reducing unpopular vehicle privilege taxes. Eight percent would go toward raising Nevada Highway Patrol salaries, 7 percent to economic development and 2 percent toward treatment of gambling addiction.

The NRA report said revenue growth has largely kept pace with Nevada's population boom. Citing a 5.3 percent compounded annual population growth rate from 1990 to 1998, the report revealed an 8.4 percent annual growth rate in revenue over the same period.

But the report said that the effect of inflation reduced the yearly per capita revenue gain to just 0.3 percent, which allowed ''very little additional revenue to fund new or expanded programs.''

The report cites health and social service expenditures, which increased by 12.2 percent annually, as the only area of public spending to grow significantly faster than the population.

From the association's perspective, the services required by new non-casino employees and non-gambling businesses aren't offset by the taxes the new businesses and employees pay.

The report said: ''While new non-gaming businesses are diversifying Nevada's economy, they fall far short of commensurately expanding its tax base.''

Bible said gambling taxes, licenses and fees pay for services ''enjoyed by the vast majority of Nevadans.'' While gambling employment grew by 33 percent during the eight years studied, construction employment grew by 84 percent, manufacturing employment grew by 60 percent and wholesale and retail employment grew by 52 percent.


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