SoS Ross Miller: “Our services aren’t worth your money”

Geoffrey Lawrence

Okay…so maybe it’s not an exact quote, but that’s certainly what I got out of Secretary of State Ross Miller’s comments to the Las Vegas Sun today. Miller is complaining that home-based businesses aren’t paying their “fair share” and should be forced to pay $200 annually for the privilege of doing business in Nevada.

The policy problems associated with this shakedown are obvious: 1. How does it impact the margins of the state’s most fledgling businesses? 2. What kind of signal does this hostility to small business send to investors worldwide, and how does that impact their future willingness to invest private capital in Nevada? 3. Why should individuals be forced to pay an up-front tribute in order to provide for their families without molestation by the state? Does anyone read John Locke anymore?

Yet, what I found most striking about Miller’s comments dealt with his shock and outrage over alleged tax fraud within the state. (Economic truth: The more punitive a tax code becomes, the higher the rate of noncompliance. It’s a component of the Laffer Curve. Look no further than the federal corporate income tax for illustration of this principle: Facing the highest corporate income tax in the developed world, American multinationals have created an entire industry of moving profits offshore to avoid the punitive federal tax.) Miller says if the reporting requirements are not made far more stringent (he wants to require official notarization on all filings) then he might as well hold up “a banner in front of the Carson Capitol that says, ‘If you pay the state business license fee, you’re an absolute idiot.'” So, Miller believes that the state bureaucracy does not provide enough value for individuals to want to support it? Interesting…

Geoffrey Lawrence

Geoffrey Lawrence

Director of Research

Geoffrey Lawrence is director of research at Nevada Policy.

Lawrence has broad experience as a financial executive in the public and private sectors and as a think tank analyst. Lawrence has been Chief Financial Officer of several growth-stage and publicly traded manufacturing companies and managed all financial reporting, internal control, and external compliance efforts with regulatory agencies including the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.  Lawrence has also served as the senior appointee to the Nevada State Controller’s Office, where he oversaw the state’s external financial reporting, covering nearly $10 billion in annual transactions. During each year of Lawrence’s tenure, the state received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting Award from the Government Finance Officers’ Association.

From 2008 to 2014, Lawrence was director of research and legislative affairs at Nevada Policy and helped the institute develop its platform of ideas to advance and defend a free society.  Lawrence has also written for the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation, with particular expertise in state budgets and labor economics.  He was delighted at the opportunity to return to Nevada Policy in 2022 while concurrently serving as research director at the Reason Foundation.

Lawrence holds an M.A. in international economics from American University in Washington, D.C., an M.S. and a B.S. in accounting from Western Governors University, and a B.A. in international relations from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.  He lives in Las Vegas with his beautiful wife, Jenna, and their two kids, Carson Hayek and Sage Aynne.