CARSON CITY – A group called Nevadans United for Fair Mining Taxes filed a constitutional amendment initiative today with the Nevada Secretary of State’s office that would allow the cap on mining taxes to increase from 5 percent to 9 percent.
“This initiative is not a tax increase,” said Las Vegas businessman Monte Miller, who heads up the group. “It simply raises the cap on mining taxes and leaves the issue on whether to raise the tax in the hands of the Nevada Legislature and governor.”
Miller said the constitutional amendment would give the Nevada Legislature and governor the tools they need to enact fair tax reform in Nevada.
“It is our hope that the Nevada Legislature will utilize this constitutional amendment to make mining companies pay their fair share and enact tax reform that will lower the burden on small businesses and homeowners,” Miller said. “By fairly taxing out-of-state mining companies, we can lower taxes on the people of Nevada.”
Tim Crowley, president of the Nevada Mining Association, said he has not reviewed the proposal with his membership and so has no official position on the proposal. But he said it was “interesting” that a highly visible, anti-tax businessman is working to “pave the way for a tax increase.”
Groups seeking to place a constitutional amendment on the 2012 ballot would need to collect 72,352 valid signatures by June 19. The measure would have to be approved by voters twice, in 2012 and again in 2014, to take effect.
The group said in its announcement that the largest gold mining company in Nevada is based in Canada and the second largest is based in Colorado, the group said in an announcement of the filing. The price of gold is currently more than $1,700 per ounce and many experts predict that it could reach more than $2,000 per ounce this year.
In 2010, mining companies in Nevada extracted more than $6.6 billion worth of gold, which netted them almost $2.8 billion in revenue. The same year, mining companies paid only $149.5 million in state and county taxes in Nevada
Taxes in other gold producing jurisdictions are much higher, the group said. For example, provinces in Canada tax net revenue up to 16 percent.
“Nevadans should benefit more from Nevada gold and foreign and out-of-state companies should benefit less,” Miller said. “Once the gold is gone, these companies will leave Nevada and take their billions with them. The mining companies can afford to pay their fair share.”
Miller said he formed Nevadans United for Fair Mining Taxes to give voters more options on tax policy in a year when the Nevada AFL-CIO has promised to put Nevada’s first business income tax on the ballot.
The Nevada News Bureau reported in November that several Nevada groups were considering a ballot measure to increase taxes for public education.
“If the Texas-style business margins income tax is going to be on the ballot, voters are going to need an alternative,” said Miller. “We are providing voters with a reasonable approach to tax reform.”