Statewide Ballot Question 4 examined

Published: Sep. 28, 2016 at 5:29 PM PDT
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In 2016, Nevada voters will decide four statewide ballot questions. Question 4, if approved, will change the state constitution. The ballot question gives lawmakers the power to exempt durable medical equipment from taxation. Question 4 received two times the number of signatures to make it on the ballot. The man who helped spearhead the effort says it was easy once he explained just who this current tax impacts.

17-month-old Roran was born with something called Lymphatic Malformation. The disease affects about one in 4,000 births. It means Roran develops fluid-filled cysts under his skin, which is why his face is larger than that of a typical one-and-a-half-year-old.

But more problematic, those cysts are growing in his windpipe....which is why he has a trach tube which sometimes has be cleared out by his mom.

“Four or five machines and a variety of equipment in the closet that go with them to run them. Roran needs all of these to survive. I don't have an option. So it doesn't seem like it should be a taxable thing,” says Michel Horn, Roran’s mom.

Horn is talking about a Nevada Department of Taxation tax.

Placed on machines like Roran's, the man who spearheaded the efforts to get this tax removed calls it nothing less than outrageous.

“This tax is like drawing the last drop of financial blood from these poor people who can't live without this equipment; there is no option,” says Doug Bennett of Bennett Medical, which supplies such equipment.

Bennett says many who use the machines don't realize they are paying it because it's a pass-through tax as part of the total cost of renting or buying the machine.

Question 4, he says, would repeal the tax on the machines now, and would change the constitution to give the legislature sole discretion on whether it wants to impose this tax, which reflects .025% of the annual budget.

Those opposed to the question ask, although it's a small percentage, where will that money come from to make up the difference in the state budget?

The sales tax is placed on medical equipment prescribed by a many cases to keep the patient alive.

The opposition claims because the legislature will determine the equipment to be exempt from the tax, the voter may really not have a full understanding of just what taxed items will be exempt.

Because this is a change to the constitution, if passed it will be on the ballot again in 2018. But that could change if the legislature in 2017 decides to take action on the Durable Medical Equipment Tax on its own.