There’s no doubt that Atlantic City is struggling, but one scheme designed to attract tourists seems mostly destined to line the pockets of already rich musicians.
A proposed bill that would provide a tax exemption for artists performing in Atlantic City moved another step closer to becoming law on October 5th after it was approved by a key state senate committee.
Sponsored by Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean and senator James Whelan (D) the legislation is intended to bolster Atlantic City’s prospects by offering a tax exemption to “a list” performers who play at least 4 nights in the Atlantic City Tourism District.
Qualifying entertainers who perform at least four dates in Atlantic City’s tourism district would get a state tax credit on all income they earn performing at any New Jersey venue, including in Atlantic City, Camden, Trenton, Newark and Holmdel, in the same calendar year.
Who would actually qualify as an ‘A list’ celebrity is up to the Secretary of State and would be determined pursuant to an annual review, taking into account music and ticket sales, as well as professional accolades, according to the current bill before the legislature. Eligible A-listers include but are not limited to singers, dancers, actors, comics, athletic and sports competitors.
If enacted the legislation would take effect immediately and apply to taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2015.
“There is tremendous value in the ability to consistently draw world-class entertainment here, especially considering widely successful A-lister residencies in Las Vegas, where there’s no state income tax,” Senator Kean said in a press statement. “The more than 50,000 fans who paid to see A-list performer Maroon 5 in August gives a glimpse of how Atlantic City can transform into a premier entertainment destination, drawing tourists from the most densely populated Northeast Corridor, two of America’s largest cities that are each less than two hours away, and from around the world via nearby international airports.”
Not everyone is as sanguine about the bill’s utility as Senator Kean however. New Jersey Policy Perspective, a liberal-leaning policy think tank suggested that proposed legislation made little fiscal sense.
“If Katy Perry, who made $135 million last year, played four times in Atlantic City and also did a two-week run of 10 shows at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey would free her from paying state income taxes on any of the 14 concerts,” New Jersey Policy Perspective president Gordon MacInnes said in a press statement. “Wealthy entertainers don’t pick concert venues for their tax rates; they go where they will find an audience. If entertainers want to ‘Do AC,’ New Jersey should tax them and use the revenue for important resources to actually build the state economy, like good schools and efficient transportation networks.”