Head of Tax Panel Won't Rule Out 3rd Special Session

Nevada Legislature 2003
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The head of the state's tax panel refused to rule out the possibility Monday that another special legislative session could be needed to clarify the intent of some of the $834 million in newly enacted taxes.

Gov. Kenny Guinn believes another special session is unlikely but agrees it cannot be ruled out completely, his spokesman said.

The Nevada Tax Commission agreed Monday to seek emergency regulations to impose the wide variety of taxes, some of which are already being collected.

Commission chairwoman Barbara Smith Campbell said the emergency action will help educate the public and business owners about the new levies while putting in place temporary collection rules before the bulk of the new revenue is collected beginning Oct. 1.

But both Campbell and a deputy state attorney general stopped short of ruling out the possibility that additional legislative action could be needed to implement all the taxes adopted in an extraordinary special session last month.

Campbell said after the commission hearing at the Desert Research Institute Monday it would be "premature" to conclude that any necessary action can be accomplished administratively without additional help from the Legislature.

"That is jumping the gun," she told The Associated Press.

A series of public tax workshops beginning Thursday and running through September, if necessary, will be held to gather comment on the record tax plan.

"We will rely on the attorney general's office, the Department (of Taxation) and the taxpayers'input," Campbell said.

Greg Zunino, senior deputy attorney general, agreed it is too soon to say whether another legislative session might be needed to clarify some matters in the tax bill.

"We really want to hear from the public. What we hear from the public may help in that decision-making process,"he said.

Guinn, a Republican, is not currently considering a request for another special session, his press secretary Greg Bortolin said Monday.

"I think it is unlikely, but it is premature to say it will or won't happen,"Bortolin said.

"I think both the Legislature and governor are fairly confident this can be resolved by the Tax Commission, but without being presumptuous, we have to follow the law and go through the necessary steps and all the necessary hearings,"he said from Carson City.

The tax panel went on the record Monday in support of imposing temporary emergency regulations - exempt from the normal requirements for public notice - but it will take a formal order from Guinn to declare such an emergency.

Zunino said he believed such a move was appropriate because the tax package was"very late in coming and no one in the public or in the department really had a real good sense of what was coming."

The state began collecting some of the new taxes July 22, including the 80-cent tax on a pack of cigarettes - up from 45 cents - and others on Aug. 1, including a boost in liquor taxes.

New business taxes go in effect Oct. 1, with a new tax on live entertainment effective Jan. 1.

"The taxpayers obviously need a guide about how to pay the taxes before the effective date,"tax commissioner Joan Lambert said.

Lobbyists and Nevada business owners have raised concerns that language in the tax plan unintentionally end up tripling some business taxes, including those on casino companies.

Gambling industry lobbyist Greg Ferraro has said the industry wants it made clear that the Legislature didn't intend to apply a new 2 percent payroll tax to the payrolls of casino companies. He said that tax rate was meant to apply to banks and other financial institutions.

Campbell said Monday those concerns will be addressed during the tax workshops, to be held in Carson City with videoconference hookups in Las Vegas.

Bortolin said the governor does not believe the Legislature intended to extend the new payroll tax to casino companies.

"There clearly was a tax on financial institutions and another one on the gamers," he said.

Dino Diciannio, deputy executive director of the state Department of Taxation, said the agency will "leave no stone unturned"in providing notice to taxpayers about the new levies.

"There are some things that will slip through the cracks. There are people who don't have computers. There are people who don't read newspapers. There are people who do not accept their mail. But we will do everything possible," he said.