Read More About It:
to Narrow Steve Wynn Art Tax Loophole
LAS VEGAS (May 26) - Sen. Joe Neal (D-North Las Vegas) today asked the Nevada Tax Commission for tight restrictions on the casino art tax loophole passed during the 1997 legislative session. Neal was one of eight senators who opposed the bill.
The Clark County Assessor's Office has had so many applications for the exemption that the state body has initiated a rule making process in an attempt to clarify the law. The commission is conducting a hearing in Las Vegas today.
The "Show Me the Monet" bill (AB 536) granted a tax loophole to buyers of publicly displayed works of art costing more than $25,000. Neal this morning asked that locations of display be narrowed to schools, libraries, museums and other public buildings where children will not be forced into a casino environment to view fine art.
He termed doing otherwise "the equivalent of doing for gambling what Joe Camel did for cigarettes."
Neal also asked that admission fees be nominal or non-existent. "Since school children will be penalized to subsidize such art purchases, they should not have to pay to see something which has already cost them teachers and pencils," Neal said.
On April 15, the Wall Street Journal reported on an "improbable art binge in the world capital of kitsch."
Neal says "the bible of business did not notice the absolute hemorrhage of taxpayer funds subsidizing that boom. In the first year alone, Mr. Wynn's investments will cost the public treasury more than $15 million, much of it at the expense of Nevada school children," Neal stated.
Wynn has amassed more than $260 million worth of fine art. He will avoid 71.4% of sales taxes in the first year and escape personal property taxes in perpetuity.
"The bill, which I tried to stop, contains a vague and broad definition of art including a sculpture of fiber," Neal noted.
"A fancy new carpet design or wallpaper might easily slip through that tax loophole, costing Nevada school children even more," Neal stated.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Harrah's commissioning a slot machine made of felt, cards and chips and MGM Grand buying statues, vases and tapestries for its highroller suites.
The proposed rule would withold exemption for "a fixture or an improvement to real property" or "property that was created for a functional use other than or in addition to its aesthetic qualities." Examples in the draft include signs, furnishings and custom-built autos or boats.
The text of AB 536 can be found at the State of Nevada website at http://www.leg.state.nv.us/97bills/AB/AB536_EN.HTM
Steve Wynn's Tax Loophole
Neal Rebuffs Dini Snub as 'Just Casino Owners Sticking
NORTH LAS VEGAS (May 6) - Sen. Joe Neal (D-North Las Vegas) today responded to Assemblyman Joe Dini's comments in an erroneous story in the Tuesday, May 5, Las Vegas Sun.
"Assembly Speaker Dini said the state needs a leader 'who's got more of an open mind on business and industry.' If that means 'give away the store,' then he's right. I'm not open to more of that," Neal said.
"Mr. Dini was also correct in another respect," Neal stated. "When he said I have not been particularly effective, there was a bit of truth to that. I certainly tried but failed to stop the casino art tax loophole which he ordered on behalf of Mirage hotel magnate Steve Wynn. The tax windfall created by Mr. Dini's AB 536 is costing Nevada school children millions and will continue to do so for years to come until repealed, which I vow to accomplish as governor," Neal said.
Dini, (D-Yerington), was the originator of Nevada's 1997 "Show Me the Monet" law which granted a tax loophole to buyers of publicly displayed works of art costing more than $25,000. On April 15, the Wall Street Journal reported on an "improbable art binge taking place in the world capital of kitsch."
Neal says "the bible of business did not notice the absolute hemorrhage of taxpayer funds subsidizing that boom. In the first year alone, Mr. Wynn's investments will cost the public treasury more than $15 million, much of it at the expense of Nevada school children. Mr. Dini is also a casino owner and did his colleagues a big favor at the expense of taxpayers and students," Neal stated. Wynn has amassed more than $260 million in fine art work. He will avoid 71.4% of sales taxes in the first year and escape personal property taxes in perpetuity.
"Mr. Dini said he has enjoyed working with Republican frontrunner Kenny Guinn in the past and looks forward to becoming his loyal opposition. I call upon Mr. Guinn, a former school superintendent, to join me in disavowing the Dini-Wynn art tax windfall," Neal said.
"The Dini bill, which I tried to stop, contains a vague and broad definition of art including a sculpture of fiber. A fancy new carpet design or wallpaper might easily slip through that tax loophole, costing Nevada school children even more," Neal stated. The Wall Street Journal reported on Harrah's commissioning a slot machine made of felt, cards and chips and MGM Grand buying statues, vases and tapestries for its highroller suites.
"Mr. Dini needs to read his e-mail before alleging that
I have not said what I would do if elected," Neal said.
"My position on increasing the gaming tax on the three-dozen
largest casinos has been sent to him and Nevada media many times.
He can visit my website at www.neal98.org and learn more of my
long-published proposals to repeal the per-employee business
tax, to reform the HMO-managed health care system and to ride
herd on utility deregulation. I do thank my longtime colleague
for calling me a populist," Neal added.
Example: Calculation of the New Art Tax Break for Steve Wynn Properties Alone
On April 15, 1998, the Wall Street Journal estimated that casino magnate Steve Wynn is amassing more than a quarter-billion dollars in fine art for his hotel-casino properties. He will enjoy a 71.4% sales tax break at purchase and a total exemption from current and future personal property taxes.
The sales tax in Clark County, Nevada, is 7%. Thanks to AB
536, only 2% is payable on high-priced art, a 71.4% reduction.
Of that $13 million loss, 45% (2.25 cents of the 5-cent per
dollar loss) is suffered by the local school support tax.
This represents an immediate loss in the first year. Nevada law used to mandate a personal property tax on such art. As it appreciates over time, the annual loss to students and taxpayers will only increase.
Under Nevada law, personal property tax is calculated in the
same manner as real property. An assessed value is arrived at
by multiplying the market value by 35%.
Taxes are calculated per $100 of assessed valuation. Losses
in the first year may be calculated as follows:
The average property tax in Nevada is $2.86 per $100 of assessed
Of that $2.86, $.75 is earmarked for schools. Thus, the direct
loss is 910,000 X $.75 = $682,500 lost to schools in first
SUMMARIZING FIRST-YEAR LOSSES:
Total loss to taxpayers: $13,000,000 + $2,602,600 = $15,602,600
SEN. NEAL'S ACTUAL NUCLEAR WASTE POSITION
The 26-year lawmaker further asked the news media to publish his actual position on nuclear waste rather than repeat Sen. Richard Bryan's (D-Nev.) misleading statement to the Las Vegas Review-Journal first published April 12.
The Las Vegas Sun May 5 rewrite of veteran reporter Cy Ryan's story redistributed Bryan's misrepresentation. "Dini joins Sen. Richard Bryan, D-Nev., and (Gov. Bob) Miller (D), who said they would not back Neal because he supports bringing nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain," the Sun stated in its May 5 edition.
That assertion represents a direct transfer without attribution of Sen. Bryan's erroneous statement in the April 12 Las Vegas Review-Journal: "I cannot support any candidate who favors nuclear waste in our state," Bryan told Nevada's largest newspaper in a story distributed statewide.
In response, Sen. Neal said "I take personal exception to the governor and the junior senator putting words in my mouth about nuclear waste. I can speak for myself. Sen. Bryan said that I 'favor nuclear waste in our state.' Not so. I told the Review-Journal that if the gubernatorial veto were still allowed by federal law, I would not hesitate to use it. The paper curiously failed to print that remark," Neal said. Both the Review-Journal and the Reno Gazette-Journal also failed to publish Neal's actual position after it was sent to them. Unlike many other Nevada papers, neither printed the accurate Associated Press followup.
"The safe transportation of nuclear material has always been a major concern. My position there has not received attention, as it does not differ from the governor or the senator," Neal stated in his April 12 rebuttal. "My position on representing Nevada before the federal government has likewise never changed, but is sometimes misrepresented. Should we get out-voted in congress and become powerless to stop the siting process, then it would constitute dereliction of duty not to sit down with Washington on transportation, safety and all the other critical issues. You can't bury your head in the sand and hope they will go away," Neal added. The U.S. House stands overwhelmingly beyond a promised presidential veto with the senate just two votes shy.
For a proper statement of his longtime position, Neal has asked Nevada citizens and news media to look to Senate Concurrent Resolution 57 of the 1993 legislative session, which he sponsored. Voted down 14-7, it reads, in part, "the members of the 67th session of the Nevada Legislature hereby support the effort by the Nevada Legislature's Committee on High-Level Radioactive Waste to consult with all necessary parties to secure clarification, in writing, of exactly the type of compensation and benefits which are due to the State of Nevada as a result of (nuclear waste) site characterization...
"If the committee finds that the state should receive benefits during site characterization, any such benefits must be available without the state forfeiting its ability to oversee the studies and its ability to disagree with the United States Department of Energy and veto the selection of the Yucca Mountain site...passage of this resolution does not in any way constitute a relinquishment by the State of Nevada of any of its rights under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, including the right to disapprove the siting of the repository at Yucca Mountain, nor an expression of intent to negotiate a benefits package for allowing site characterization of the Yucca Mountain site," the resolution stated.
Neal emphasizes his own record on safety issues. In Carson City on May 2, Neal said "against the forces of the gaming industry, I sponsored and passed the toughest fire sprinkler law in the world. It is now the model everyone comes here to look at. No one's record on public safety issues exceeds my own," Neal stated before the Nevada State Employees Association.
Speaker Dini Shuns Neal's Candidacy for Governor
CARSON CITY -- Assembly Speaker Joe Dini, D-Yerington, filed for a 17th term Monday saying he won't support North Las Vegas Sen. Joe Neal, the front-running Democrat for governor.
Dini, 69, said he has watched Neal work in the Senate and he "has not been particularly effective."
Dini said the state needs a leader going into the next century "who's got more of an open mind on business and industry."
Dini, the senior Democrat in the Legislature, said while he would not support any gubernatorial candidate, he added he "would like to be the loyal opposition to Kenny Guinn."
Guinn, the Republican front-runner to replace Gov. Bob Miller, is "easy to work with," Dini said, noting that they worked together when Guinn was superintendent of schools in Clark County.
Dini joins Sen. Richard Bryan, D-Nev., and Miller, who said they would not back Neal because he supports bringing nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain. Dini, however, said that isn't the issue that turns him off against Neal.
"Joe's a Populist," Dini said, "but he has not said what he would do when elected."
Dini opposes both the "payroll protection" constitutional amendment to curtail union dues being used for politics and the proposed change to allow marijuana to be used in medical treatment.
Dini, who wants to return as speaker, said Democrats have a good chance of increasing their 25-17 majority by two seats in the 1998 election. He said Democrats can win the seat being vacated by Republican Jack Close in Las Vegas and Republican Pat Hickey's Reno district.
You can write to Sen. Neal at
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