Tax loophole could be driving push to move fall race to Vegas - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Tax loophole could be driving push to move fall race to Vegas

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CONCORD, NC (WBTV) -

Was the fortuitous death of a proposed entertainment tax in the state Nevada the reason for Bruton Smith's announcement that he might move the fall race from Charlotte Motor Speedway to Las Vegas?

A tax was proposed in Nevada, the Democratic who proposed it said it was closing loopholes that exempted Bruton Smith's Las Vegas Motor Speedway and other venues from paying tax, she called it an entertainment tax, opponents called it the family fun tax, it came up last week, then suddenly went nowhere.

On Monday Paul Cameron put the question to Bruton Smith. Is the threat to move a race just a way to get something out of local officials, Smith said no. 

"They've made me offers to move one and so, I know they would approve this...and say the October race, Las Vegas," Smith told WBTV.

But the next day in a statement, Smith complained that his Cabarrus County taxes have doubled since 2005, leading many to ask again if the threat to move a race to Las Vegas was directed at local leaders.

Did the taxes double? Yes. 

WBTV obtained tax records showing that In 2005 the Charlotte Motor Speedway tax bill was $645,000, in 2012 the tax bill was more than $1.1 million. 

But since 2005 Smith says himself he has made $100 million in improvements, including pit suites, and the big HDTV, raising the value of the property. 

And local taxes also increased due to a 13% drop in property values. Taxes were raised to make up for the lost revenues.

So if taxes are the problem, would Las Vegas be any better? 

One big tax hurdle for Smith has apparently been cleared. A proposed admissions tax that would be on just about any entertainment venue in Nevada, including Las Vegas Motor Speedway was introduced in the Nevada General Assembly last week. 

Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick is behind an effort to close loopholes in the law to make it apply to everything from rock concerts to golf fees. 

"Forty-four other states have similar admissions tax across the state," Kirkpatrick told Las Vegas station KNPR in a radio interview. 

Right now, the law has too many loopholes that allow venues to avoid paying their fair share, she said. 

"$135 million of the Live Entertainment Tax comes primarily from the Las Vegas Strip – that's the bulk of it," Kirkpatrick said. "As far as some of the things that we see, golf memberships, you know. Folks are paying $700 a month for their membership dues. In other states, that is part of the admissions tax. At least at my house, $700 would have to be extra in order to have that livelihood or that hobby." 

The controversial bill, dubbed the "Family Fun Tax" by critics, went to the state's taxation committee without any action. One source in the Nevada General Assembly told WBTV that the bill, AB 498, "appears to be going nowhere." 

Smith had joined with other promoters in opposing the tax, vowing at that time not to bring any new events to Vegas if the tax was enacted. 

WBTV also contacted the Las Vegas Convention and Visitor's Bureau to ask if there were any ongoing talks with Bruton Smith about bringing a second race to LVMS. @

"We have not had discussions," Communications Director Dawn Christensen wrote in an email to WBTV. "I'll refer you back to him or to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway for any further comment. Thanks for reaching out to us."

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