At least the Tax Department won't shut down

Does anybody else find it ironic that Nevada's Interim Finance Committee approved $3 million for the Taxation Department to collect taxes the rest of the Legislature hasn't yet approved?

The tax collectors are somewhere between Catch-22 and a Kafka novel as they prepare to enforce a whole passel of new laws. They just don't know which ones.

Higher cigarette and liquor taxes, sure. An entertainment tax, you bet. Somewhat higher casino taxes, probably. A higher real-estate transfer tax, likely.

A business tax? In some form, we expect businesses to get hit. But we're still in the dark as to whether it will be the unified business tax, the gross-receipts tax, the net-profits tax or some other idea that hasn't yet been given a name. The Taxation Department is waiting to find out.

Nevertheless, it has to get ready to swing into action when the Legislature finally decides what to do. And there's not much question it's going to cost Nevada taxpayers more for the privilege of paying higher taxes.

The plan, as it stands, calls for up to 45 employees and a new computer system. Over the next three years, the bill for being billed will reach somewhere in the neighborhood of $27 million.

Still, that's a pretty good return if the state coffers bring in $860 million or so over the next two years.

Aside from the irony of approving money for the elusive tax plan, though, is the way in which it came about. On the day before a second special session of the Legislature convened, the Interim Finance Committee seemed to have no qualms about acting.

It makes those dire predictions of state government shutting down ring rather hollow, doesn't it?

At least the priorities have been confirmed: Get the tax collectors on board; worry about hiring teachers later.


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