Breaking: The legislative tax study lives; Update: Tax study is (half) dead

Victor Joecks

Update, July 29: The Las Vegas Sun is reporting that the tax study is half dead. The portion of the tax study analyzing the state’s revenue structure will not be completed, but the portion where special interests create a dream lists of projects (the Nevada Vision Stakeholder Group) will live on and present their final report by September 15.

It’s alive!

Last week the Nevada News Bureau reported that the Legislative Counsel Bureau had sent Moody’s Analytics, the firm hired by the Interim Finance Committee to perform Nevada’s tax study, a notice of default. The notice said Moody’s had 10 days to produce the report or the contract would be terminated.

But the NNB article noted that Lorne Malkiewich, director of the LCB, said an agreement could still be worked.

And the LCB has confirmed to me today that an agreement between the LCB and Moody’s is currently being negotiated to complete the tax study on an extended timeline. Malkiewich told me that he expects the official announcement to come within the next day or two.

When I asked him if the revised timeline would be released at the same time a reworked contract was announced, he was noncommittal.

If the legislature is serious about having a discussion on tax policy – as Sen. Steven Horsford has claimed – it will release the study (or at least a preliminary version) no later than September 30, which would be a three month delay. This would give the public and candidates just over one month to digest and debate the study’s (likely) recommendations to raise taxes and create a corporate income tax.

If there’s not even a preliminary version of the tax study released by September 30, than the IFC’s and Sen. Horsford’s intentions will be clear: keep the voters in the dark by hiding the tax study until after the election and only then talk about creating a business tax after 53 straight months of rising unemployment.

No matter what kinds of games the IFC plays with the tax study in the coming months, I will be (pleasantly) shocked if taxpayers get any sort of look at it until after the election.

Far too often Nevada’s politicians have chosen political expediency over honesty and transparency. Unfortunately it looks like that pattern is continuing.