Group seeks to raise mining taxes in Nevada
CARSON CITY (AP) – Nevada’s mining industry would face higher taxes under an initiative petition a group plans to file Tuesday with the secretary of state.
The Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada is seeking voter approval of a minimum tax of 5 percent on mining companies’ gross revenue. Legislators could later raise the tax above 5 percent.
The petition also would change the state constitutional requirement that limits mining taxes to 5 percent of a companies’ “net” proceeds, or what is left after they deduct most of their expenses.
The alliance must secure 97,002 valid signatures by Aug. 4 to put the petition before voters in the November election.
If the proposal had been in effect in 2008, state and county governments would have shared $284 million in mining taxes, said Bob Fulkerson, the alliance’s state director. Instead, they shared $79 million.
Before the petition could take effect, voters would have to approve it in both the 2010 and 2012 general elections.
“The idea is to stop an unfair tax situation,” Fulkerson told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Mining has had a privileged status in Nevada since statehood.”
Nevada Mining Association President Tim Crowley issued a statement saying his group would oppose the petition.
“Undoubtedly, more changes need to be made to Nevada’s tax structure,” he said. “Yet, study upon study has shown that industry-specific taxes are foolhardy.
“The state already suffers the consequences of relying too heavily on the gaming industry. Placing a disproportionate reliance on mining, which already pays an industry-specific tax in addition to all conventional taxes, would further exacerbate Nevada’s tax structure problems.”
Crowley said mining provides high-wage jobs to 14,000 Nevadans at a time when jobs are hard to come by. Unemployment in mining counties is 6.5 percent, compared with more than 12 percent statewide.
Fulkerson said he expects the mining association to spend millions on court challenges and an advertising campaign against the petition.
Nevada mines produced commodities worth a record $6.1 billion in 2008, according to the state Division of Minerals. Gold mining produced $4.9 billion of the state total. Nevada mines produce 80 percent of the gold mined nationwide.