Broadening Ohio's new lower sales tax to cover more entertainment activities might take some of the fun out of going bowling or to concerts, football games, and amusement parks.
Gov. John Kasich wants to cut the state's overall sales-tax rate while also putting the lower 5 percent sales tax on a long list of new items
that include circuses, arcade games and carnival rides.
Admission to fairs, museums, and theme parks also would fall under Ohio's sales tax for the first time, as would tickets to pro, college, and high school games.
The governor is proposing sweeping changes in the way Ohio taxes businesses and individuals in his two-year budget that still must be approved by lawmakers. Kasich's plan includes cutting the income tax rate by 20 percent over three years and the small business tax by 50 percent. The reductions add up to $1.4 billion in tax cuts over three years.
His proposal also tacks on Ohio's sales tax to attorney fees, cable TV, and pet grooming.
"By broadening this tax, by broadening it, we're actually bringing greater fairness to the system," Kasich said last week.
Adding the sales tax on arts, entertainment, and recreation alone is projected to bring in $85 million to the state government over the coming two years.
It's also likely to add to the cost of seeing a ballgame or a play.
Some entertainment businesses and sports teams will pass the costs onto ticket buyers and customers while others are likely to absorb the costs, fearing that a price increase will drive away business.
"There has to be a decrease somewhere, either in my profits or customers," said Eric Bates, president of Bates Brothers Amusements Co., which is based in Wintersville in eastern Ohio and supplies carnival rides to fairs and festivals.
He worries that some cash-strapped county fairs won't survive if they're forced to give up 5 percent of their gate fees to the government.
Bowling alley owner Marty Teifke agreed that it would hurt to pay a tax on lane rentals.
"It's not easy to raise prices, and the economy is not the best around here" said Teifke, who runs Timbers Bowling in Maumee near Toledo. "It scares me to hear this."
Close to 70 cities and villages in Ohio already have some sort of admission tax with most coming in at 3 percent. Cleveland's is at 8 percent.
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