Income tax on Nevada casinos |

Income tax on Nevada casinos


As Nevada taxpayers sit down to fill out their federal income-tax forms, they annually give thanks that they do not have to pay a share to the state.

And those who itemize their deductions scratch and claw for every legitimate expense, donation to charity, or already-paid tax so they can whittle down the ultimate bill.

It was from that point of view – the typical taxpayer – we approached the question of how much Nevada’s casinos pay.

The usual figure is 6.25 percent. Sen. Joe Neal would propose adding 5 percent, bring the number to 11.25 percent. That doesn’t sound too onerous until one considers it is a tax on gross revenues.

The difference is significant, at least in the way we view the contribution gaming makes to state coffers.

Currently, Nevada’s largest casinos pay about 34 percent of their annual profits to the state in taxes. With the increase proposed by Neal, the number would rise to about 57 percent.

As detailed by Appeal reporter Geoff Dornan in Sunday’s edition, the largest casinos grossed $7.74 billion from gaming in 1998. Of that amount, $1.7 billion was profit.

They paid $591 million in taxes. With an 11.25 percent gross tax, the amount would be $978 million.

As Nevada Resort Association Director Bill Bible noted, it would narrow the margin by which casinos operate. Some borderline operations might actually go into the red.

Neal’s intent isn’t to drive anyone out of business. He’s trying to find a way to raise state revenues. But the casinos don’t look like quite as attractive a target when the tax rate is seen as 57 percent of profit rather than 11.25 percent of gross revenues.

Ordinary taxpayers may still think, “Better them than me.” Same with other businesses, who are expected to be the focus of a tax increase proposed by the state teachers union.

However, when we say that Nevada has no income tax, we should remember that isn’t true for everybody.