Guinn will wait for task force recommendations before deciding on tax plan

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Gov. Kenny Guinn says he is not ready to etch his tax proposals in stone yet and won't until after he reviews recommendations by the Governor's Task Force on Tax Policy.

Guinn was quoted earlier this week as supporting increases in gaming and sales taxes, in addition to proposals for cigarette and liquor tax hikes and a new business tax. On Friday he said that's not the case.

"I'm waiting to see the details they come forward with," he said.

Of all the proposals, he said the ones he most solidly supports at this point are doubling cigarette and liquor taxes.

He also said he believes the state has to set aside a slightly larger piece of the property tax for itself -- likely for capital construction.

But he said his support for the proposed "gross receipts tax" on business depends on the details of who would be exempted and how.

"But if you don't know what the exemption figure would be for a small business, you can't support it," Guinn said.

The quarter-percent proposed tax on gross receipts of every business in the state has drawn strong opposition from businesspeople who say it would drive them out of business.

Supporters say the way to avoid hurting small businesses is to exempt the first $250,000 to $350,000 in income -- lifting the tax from about 70 percent of Nevada businesses.

Opponents say they still will fight it in the Legislature.

Guinn said he also wants to see some of the other ideas the task force has been looking at, like a tax break for employers who provide health benefits.

"If they did that, that means the state would not be paying for it," he said. "That's a very creative idea."

But he said at no point has he indicated support for higher sales and gaming taxes -- which are already providing more than 80 percent of total state general fund revenues. The heavy reliance on those two taxes, Guinn said, is a large part of the state's fiscal problem -- harshly pointed out this past year when 9-11 caused tourism dollars to drop sharply and suddenly.

The result of that slump is the state's estimated $370 million budgetary shortfall this fiscal year.

He said he has been generally in agreement with gaming officials that other businesses in the state should help pay more of the total tax burden.

He said he will make decisions on which tax increases to support after receiving the task force report Nov. 15.


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