A little more than a year ago, state lawmakers debated furiously over Governor Brian Sandoval’s $1.1 billion tax package.

It was largely republican lawmakers attacking each other.

Republican Assemblyman Brent Jones of Las Vegas said the plan was a betrayal to voters. But Paul Anderson, also a Las Vegas Assemblyman and a Republican, said “the sky is not falling” by raising taxes.

It passed and was signed into law.

Then a group was formed to get a referendum on the ballot this fall to reverse a portion of the tax package, the commerce tax. That tax is expected to raise $60 million per year.

That referendum effort failed. And payment of those taxes by businesses are due this week, with some exceptions.

The question is: Is the sky falling? Have businesses left the state due to the tax?

Las Vegas City Councilman Bob Beers was one of key opponents of the commerce tax.

"I think, personally and economically, it's a bad form of taxation to tax the gross receipts rather than the net income of a business," he told KNPR's State of Nevada. "I believe it is amongst the worst forms of taxation as far as the negative impact on the economy."

However, Councilman Beers couldn't name a company that had left the state because of the change in the tax structure, but he wanted to know what companies had moved to Nevada because of the improved education system.

Support comes from

Beers said it is far too early to say how the tax has impacted businesses.

Tom Skancke, who in 2015 was head of the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance, was one of the first to support the commerce tax said exactly the same thing about education reforms.

"I think we've got to give it a chance," he said, "I would say that we are attracting companies here because of our investments in education. I agree with Bob that it is too soon to determine what that is to a degree."

Skancke said when he headed up the LVGEA there were several firms who decided against moving to Nevada because of the education system, which is why he supported the tax hike to support it. 

"Is it perfect? I don't think any tax structure is perfect, but it's a start," Skancke said.


Tom Skancke, founder, TSC2, a communications strategy firm; former head of LVGEA 

You won’t find a paywall here. Come as often as you like — we’re not counting. You’ve found a like-minded tribe that cherishes what a free press stands for. If you can spend another couple of minutes making a pledge of as little as $5, you’ll feel like a superhero defending democracy for less than the cost of a month of Netflix.