Panels Plan Swift Review Of Tax Plan

Nevada Budget Crisis
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Nevada Taxation Department officials promised an open, swift process Thursday in producing regulations that'll end confusion and ensure collection of the record $836 million in new taxes approved by state legislators.

"We want to get out of the gate as quickly as possible to work on these things,"Dino DiCianno, the agency's deputy director, said during an initial workshop on the rules _ including some that will be adopted on an emergency basis.

"I need to caution that we have a lot on our plate,"DiCianno said, adding that the most important rules will deal with new or revised payroll taxes on businesses and banks, a live entertainment levy and new excise taxes on businesses.

"This will be an open process,"DiCianno said, adding,"If we're not clear about what we're doing, how can you expect taxpayers of this state to be able to respond to that?"

Casino industry lobbyist Harvey Whittemore pressed the officials for details on information they'll use in the rule-making process. The clubs want to make sure a new 2 percent payroll tax doesn't apply to them and instead applies to banks and other financial institutions.

Gambling companies, like most firms other than banks, will pay a 0.7 percent tax on payrolls.

The new levies on the banks and other business taxes will be discussed in more detail at an Aug. 14 workshop. Other sessions already are scheduled for Aug. 21 and Aug. 27. DiCianno said the meetings will continue into the fall, and more will be scheduled as needed.

The state began collecting some of the new taxes last month, including the 80-cent tax on a pack of cigarettes _ up 45 cents. Higher taxes on liquor started this month, new business taxes go into effect Oct. 1, and the live entertainment tax starts up Jan. 1.

While the regulations should clear up confusion over the new taxes, officials have stopped short of ruling out the possibility of additional legislative action. That would mean a third special session following the regular 2003 session that adjourned in early June without a final tax plan to erase a shortfall in the state's nearly $5 billion, two-year budget.

Republican Gov. Kenny Guinn, who favored the higher taxes, isn't considering another special session, a spokesman says. The Legislature's second special session this year ended July 22.

Before the tax regulations are finally adopted by the state Tax Commission, they must undergo a review by the lawmakers'Legislative Commission to ensure the rules followed the legislators'intent.

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