Taxpayers group opposes higher tax on gambling industry

CARSON CITY (AP) - The Nevada Taxpayers Association said Wednesday a state senator's plan to increase taxes paid by casinos should be rejected.

NTA chairman Fred Gibson said the proposal targets the resorts and could become punitive over time, ''sending a negative message to businesses looking to expand or to relocate from other states.''

Gibson added the proposal by Sen. Joe Neal, D-North Las Vegas, earmarks the tax revenue for specific uses but lacks a ''payer-user benefit'' relationship.

Without such a link - such as paying for road repairs out of fuel taxes paid by drivers - Gibson said ''accountability for the use of the funds and the need for the funds is lost.''

Carole Vilardo, NTA president, added she sees a lot of problems with a revenue distribution formula in Neal's plan.

Vilardo said the NTA surveyed its 50-member board about the proposal and got 37 responses - all in opposition.

The proposal would increase the tax on gross revenues of casinos that take in more than $1 million a month from 6.25 percent to 11.25 percent.

To qualify the initiative for the Legislature in 2001, Neal must get 10 percent of the voters in 13 of the 17 counties to sign a petition favoring the plan by Nov. 14.

If the petition qualifies and the Legislature rejects it, it goes on the ballot in 2002 for a decision by the voters.

Neal estimates the increase would raise $388 million a year in new taxes. Forty-five percent of the money would go to public schools, 38 percent toward reducing the motor vehicle privilege tax, 8 percent to raising Nevada Highway Patrol employee salaries, 7 percent to economic development and 2 percent to fighting gambling addiction.


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