Monday, April 23, 2012

Taxes on Theatre Tickets???

This blog post from 2amTheatre about new taxes being imposed in California, one of them being on theatre tickets, should be a little wake up call for us to make sure it doesn't happen here.

Taxes: I Dont Think It Means What You Think It Means

I get it. Taxes are a necessary part of civic life. But what some of our civic officials don’t seem to always get is that taxes don’t always guarantee the revenue they’re hoping to make.

Where is all this coming from?

Well, as of Friday afternoon an urgent call went out to California theatre artists.

URGENT: Sales tax to be imposed on theatre ticket sales MONDAY!
California Arts Advocates has just learned that a bill is going before the California legislature on Monday that will impose a sales tax on tickets to live theatre productions.
This bill does not include a sales tax on any other forms of entertainment, including opera, concerts or sporting events. (emphasis mine)
That’s right. A sales tax on theatre tickets.

A Civic Parable

Let me tell you a story about Oakland. Interestingly I heard this story while I was in Texas listening to NPR (I don’t listen to the radio unless I’m in a car and living in San Francisco has meant existing sans car so…). The story goes something like this: Oakland officials wanted to increase their revenue and saw that people were coming to downtown Oakland for evening dinner, shopping, etc. And since parking meters stop charging after 6pm the officials thought they’d extend that time a few more hours.

The math makes sense. More time charging for parking equals more money coming in, right?


Here’s the thing. People aren’t pure math. They adjust. Especially when it comes to their pocketbook.

So what happened? People didn’t want to pay for parking in the evening. Fewer people visited downtown Oakland for evening dinner, shopping, etc. The city didn’t see the increased revenue they hoped for and the local businesses…well, they saw their business drop 30% due to the new parking meter hours.

Increasing tolls or taxes won’t always lead to the results you think it will.

I wonder if Assembly Member Gatto actually understands the potential impact a sales tax on theatre tickets would have. How it would impact jobs, the economy, opportunities for youth and communities.

Follow the link HERE or at the top to read more.


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