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NC Tax Law Proposal Would Hike Live Entertainment Prices

Photo: Ferris wheel at the N.C. State Fair
Flickr, Kevin Oliver

When North Carolina legislators passed a law this summer charging sales tax on admissions to live entertainment events in the state, they made a list of exempt groups.

But exactly who doesn’t have to pay created confusion, so now law makers have a more clear proposal: Tax everyone, except for K-12 schools and all-volunteer groups.

The General Assembly’s tax oversight committee reviewed Tuesday a proposal that would amend the tax overhaul law passed this summer by removing most of the exemptions it had created for live-event taxes, including festivals, youth sports tournaments, agricultural fairs and state attractions. It had been unclear which events would qualify.

“We have agreed that exemptions create confusion,” said Rep. Tim Moffitt, R-Buncombe County. “When you’re trying to identify what is a ‘state attraction’ versus what’s not, arguably, there’s a tremendous amount of confusion amongst our citizens, so we decided to remove that exemption.” 

Some of the groups that most closely lobbied for adjustments in the new law, which is set to go into effect Jan. 1, are small non-profits such as the Manbites Dog Theater in Durham or the Levine Museum of the New South in Charlotte. Larger organizations with similar missions, such as the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh, are exempt under the law because they are considered state attractions. 

Several lawmakers Tuesday said they wanted to “level the playing field” between small and large groups. 

“We’re the legislature,” said Rep. Becky Carney, D-Mecklenburg County. “Certainly, we can come up with a solution that’s going to suit everybody, and certainly keep our stature within the country about how we value the arts in this state.”

The committee may vote as early as Dec. 10 on recommending a bill for the legislative session in the spring.

Jorge Valencia has been with North Carolina Public Radio since 2012. A native of Bogotá, Colombia, Jorge studied journalism at the University of Maryland and reported for four years for the Roanoke Times in Virginia before joining the station. His reporting has also been published in the Wall Street Journal, the Miami Herald, and the Baltimore Sun.
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