D.C. City Council rejects 6% theatre tax

Thursday, May 26, 2011 – The D.C. City Council yesterday passed a 2011-2012 budget for the City – without the 6% tax on live arts performances that Mayor Vincent Gray had proposed.

The Helen Hayes Awards organization, which had lobbied heavily against the tax, credited Council members Michael Brown and Jack Evans for stripping the tax from the proposal and getting the funds from taxes on security measures instead. “Councilmember Michael Brown successfully negotiated the ticket tax out of the FY2012 budget by offsetting the proposed funds with a tax on security, private investigation, and armored car services which are all already taxed in many neighboring jurisdictions,” the organization said in an e-mail to theatre tax opponents dated early this morning. “Further, Councilmember Jack Evans vigorously and vocally opposed the tax from the moment it appeared in the Mayor’s budget.”

The mayor had proposed that the tax exemption which currently applies to live performance tickets be removed and that those tickets be subject to the District’s 6% sales tax. He had estimated that such a tax would generate $2,303,000 in fiscal 2011-2012.

The Helen Hayes Awards organization, having helped to defeat the proposed theatre tax, now hopes to generate a dedicated revenue stream to help theater in the City. “[We] desire to work with District leadership to identify a sustainable funding model fitting the critical importance of the arts industry in our city,” the organization said. “We need a long-term tax and revenue solution instead of the annual pleas for money and tax relief…the stage is now set for a unified effort to help develop that long-term solution.”

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