A Sparks newspaper columnist is charging that there’s a joker in the fine print of Ballot Question 8.
“In all the initiative petition hassle of this election season, Ballot Question 8 has gotten lost. As part of a laundry list of corporate welfare queen outrages, it would increase the tax exemptions [for] Mr. Wynn’s art collection,” Andrew Barbano wrote in the Sparks Tribune.
“When Congress eliminated tax breaks for fine art in the mid-90s, Wynn went to the Nevada Legislature for a state-level freebie. After all, a man of his wealth should not be forced to bear the cost of Nevada’s cultural enlightenment alone.”
Carole Vilardo of the Nevada Taxpayers Association says the measure would indeed extend six existing tax exemptions that currently apply only to the local portion of the sales tax to the state portion as well.
Barbano says the recent showing of Wynn’s art collection at Reno’s Nevada Museum of Art, which won local praise for Wynn’s benevolence, was actually an effort to comply with state law. That law gave Wynn a tax break on his art collection on condition that he provide cut-rate exhibitions of the collection.
The Legislature reduced Wynn’s sales taxes, and Question 8, Barbano says, is an attempt to cut them the rest of the way.
Barbano, a labor union activist and the 1984 Democratic nominee for the northern congressional seat, has some unaccustomed company in opposing the measure. The taxpayers association, the state’s oldest anti-tax group, has called for the defeat of Question 8. The group considers it poorly written because it groups numerous tax exemptions together instead of putting each in a separate ballot measure so voters would not have to cast all-or-nothing votes. In addition, the taxpayers’ group said in a statement, “The Association has consistently opposed the use of exemptions when there is not a justifiable economic or social purpose for the exemption.”