- Associated Press - Thursday, June 4, 2015

RENO, Nev. (AP) - Nevada Burners might have conflicting feelings about a new tax ushered in by the Nevada Legislature.

On the one hand, their home-state will make more money.

On the other, Burning Man officials say that they are looking at all of their options to reckon with the estimated $2.8 million that the tax will cost Burning Man each year.

What are the options?

They include everything from bumping up ticket prices to leaving Nevada.

“We certainly understand the Nevada Legislature’s need to identify revenue sources, but we believe this change to the Live Entertainment Tax is misguided,” said Jim Graham, a spokesman for Burning Man.

The Nevada Legislature passed a 9 percent live entertainment tax, which first was introduced to the Senate floor in March, according to the Legislature’s website. The flat tax means that some venues in the state that previously were taxed based on their size will see a decrease in their dues.

For other entities, such as Burning Man and the Electric Daisy Festival, held in Las Vegas, it will be a completely new expenditure.

Burning Man officials state that their nonprofit status formerly qualified the organization as exempt from the tax. Now the tax will collect 9 percent of all income generated by ticket sales to the event.

Burning Man has not yet disclosed the revenue that it generates from ticket sales each year, but the Internal Revenue Service documents revealing the numbers are expected this fall.

Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, co-sponsor of the bill, said that the tax currently brings in an estimated $137 million, most of which goes toward the state’s General Fund. About $150,000 goes toward the Nevada Arts Council’s budget, she said.

Burning Man officials believe state representatives are getting greedy, calling Kirkpatrick’s bill “unbalanced and short-sighted.”

According to Burning Man, the organization itself spends $11 million in Nevada annually, has vendor contracts with local businesses and is a strong supporter of arts around the state.

Burning Man participants contribute more than $40 million annually to the Nevada economy; they pay their share of sales and gas taxes, and they are tremendously supportive of local businesses, Graham said.

Burning Man’s ticket admission revenue will not be taxed until 2016, even though the legislation technically goes into effect July 1 and will not begin taxing until Oct. 1, about a month after Burning Man has taken place. The event is from Aug. 30 to Sept. 7 this year.

“Burning Man already sold its tickets for this year. Anything that has already been sold does not apply,” Kirkpatrick said.

Kirkpatrick said that she has been working on the bill for years due to the changing entertainment industry. When she first introduced the bill, Burning Man founder Larry Harvey suggested that Nevada might not be the best home for the event.

Kirkpatrick is unphased, she said.

Burning Man officials are reviewing the bill, figuring out what their next step will be.

“It’s passed. Now we just have to take a good hard look at it,” Graham said.

___

Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal, https://www.rgj.com

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