blank.gif (51 bytes) Nevada Watch

Tax Facts, Part I: E-commerce is booming. According to one estimate, online sales may hit $108 billion by 2003. So it's no surprise that bureaucrats are sharpening their knives. Internet commerce "is a concern" to Michael A. Pitlock of the Nevada Department of Taxation, and he's got a solution for it: "Put a requirement on vendors to collect taxes for all products they ship to each state." But for now, Pitlock can only dream. The Internet Tax Freedom Act  (ITFA) put a three-year moratorium on Net taxes. Governor James Gilmore of Virginia--a committed  tax foe--chairs a commission studying the issue for Congress. he has little regard  for the criticism that buying things online creates an unfair loophole for those with Web access. "I would hate to think that we would all reach the conclusion at this moment in the development of civilization that the government has a right to all of our resources and that anything that didn't do that was somehow a loophole," Gilmore recently told the San Jose Mercury News. With a string voice for tax relief at the helm of the commission, perhaps the ITFA will have a good chance for renewal in 2001--giving Nevada Netizens even more time to avoid their state's sky-high sales tax.

Tax Facts, Part II: If there were any lingering doubts that the Nevada Taxpayers Association (NTA) is no friend of the taxpayer, this legislative session laid them to rest. The group, headed by the increasingly colorful and bighat-wearing Las Vegan Carole Vilardo, supported both a pay hike for legislators and a lifting of the cap on property taxes in Nevada's rural countries. "We're not anti-tax," Vilardo admitted in April. No kidding. In 1997, Vilardo--acting as a private citizen--served on a committee which endorsed the notorious quarter-cent sales tax increase. When gubernatorial candidate Aaron Russo proposed to eliminate the state's regressive motor vehicle privilege tax last year, Vilardo wondered what would be done to "replace it." (How about nothing?) Perhaps it's time the NTA had some competition. Disgust with the establishment bent of the San Diego Taxpayers Association prompted libertarian activist Richard Rider to form his own organization in April. Two California state legislators have joined San Diego Taxfighters, and the group already has more than 50 members.

Tax Facts, Part III: Last month the Tax Foundation released its annual analysis of American's tax burden. And once again, the group found that Nevada's image as   a low-tax state is bunk. Nevadans bear the eighth highest combined tax burden in the nation. Taxes in Nevada are higher than those in California, Hawaii, Maryland, and even "Taxachusetts" itself. Tax Freedom Day--the day on which the average   Nevadan stops working for government--was May 14. (Your local paper or news broadcast probably missed it.) Despite the overwhelming evidence that Nevada is not a low-tax state, state government and many in the establishment business community claim that it's not. For example, the Nevada Department of taxation's Web site declares that state's "tax structure continues to be one of the least burdensome in the United States."

Get Your Kicks on
Route Porkety-Pork:
A committee of the U.S. House recently approved $10 million for preservation efforts along Route 66, the historic Chicago-to-L.A. highway made famous by John Stenbeck and Bobby Troup. Nevada Rep. Shelley Berkley is a co-sponsor. I the appropriation bill another in an endless series of federal subsidies? Yes, but it's also a reminder of Rep. Berkley's, well creative memory. When she was running for Congress last year, Berkley told the Wall Street Journal that when her family moved to Las Vegas, she and her parents drove into town on Route 66. Of course, as any student of the Mother Road knows, Route 66 never went through Vegas.

--NJ


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