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February 26, 2015

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Damon Political Report

Horsford proposes legislation to close mining tax loopholes

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Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-North Las Vegas

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-North Las Vegas, today proposed legislation aimed at ending the ability of the mining industry to convince state regulators to expand its tax deductions beyond what is allowed in state law.

Horsford’s legislation would specifically eliminate some deductions being claimed by the industry despite the fact they don’t appear in state law. It also seeks to tighten the regulatory oversight so the industry isn’t able to exploit confusion between the law and regulations in order to lower its tax bill.

An investigation by the Las Vegas Sun into the industry’s ability to expand its tax deductions found regulators often sided with industry lobbyists over their own legal counsel and staff to approve tax breaks that aren’t specifically authorized in state law.

“How can we say it is working and it is effective?” Horsford said of the way tax regulations are developed. “What we have now isn’t being followed and we’re losing money.”

Horsford was unable to provide a figure for how much revenue the state has lost because of the questionable deductions claimed by the mining industry on its net proceeds of minerals tax.

State law allows the industry to deduct costs specifically associated with the extraction and processing of its minerals. But over the years those costs have grown to include such things as employee housing, travel, corporate office expenses and sales taxes.

Horsford’s amendment would clarify what is and isn’t acceptable, a debate the mining industry says it’s willing to have.

“We don’t object to clarifying the law and making the rules clear to everybody, including the taxpayer,” said Tim Crowley, president if the Nevada Mining Association. “That is to our benefit as well.”

But Crowley equivocated on some of the specific deductions Horsford seeks to end.

In a letter he wrote in April, Crowley acknowledged that travel deductions, for example, “may not be relevant to the value of the mineral” and should be excluded.

In a hearing Wednesday, however, he argued much of the industry’s travel should remain deductible.

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  1. GO HORSFORD! Finally! $4.3 BILLION in deductions can cover a big budget problem.

  2. Last night (Tuesday) Senator Heller voted to continue giving billions of tax dollars to the most profitable oil companies and he's probably sharing a pillow or two with the mines.

    Senator Heller voted against legislation that would have cut taxpayer-funded giveaways to Big Oil. In the process, he stood against a bipartisan Senate majority that said "no" to Big Oil handouts. Unfortunately, the vote fell short of the 60 votes needed to advance the legislation.

    As you probably already know, the biggest oil companies made nearly $37 billion profits in just the first three months of this year. At the same time, while the rest of us have been paying near-record prices at the pump, oil companies are collecting billions of dollars -- more than $40 billion over the next ten years -- in taxpayer-funded giveaways.

    Senator Heller, who has received more than $80,000 in campaign cash from oil and gas interests, needs to hear from you -- he needs to know that we're paying attention and that continuing to give billions of dollars a year to wealthy oil companies is unacceptable.

    WHERE IS THE SHARED SACRIFICE? What did Heller do for Nevada in the area of mining revenues? His first objective is Billions in tax dollars to the billionaires, then raise the tuition on the unemployed. $4/gallon at the pumps, 80 cents/gallon increase in 6 months going to Executives and that's not a problem. That will keep Heller in campaign cash for a long time.

  3. Me thinks your math is pretty close on this one Sgt.Rock.

    Doubling the taxes on the mines would only raise an additional $50 million or so. Not insubstantial, but hardly the answer to our budget woes.

  4. Yea Sgt Rock des have this one pretty close I think. He is also right about the school teacher.


  5. I'd also like to point out that Hortsford never finished college much less has a law degree. Might not be the best choice to decide if deductions should or should not be allowed by the law.

    Also didn't Sandovol already re staff the auditers after we all found out that there was no one qualified to do it.

    Seems like he's just trying to take credit for someone elses idea because right now its realy popular to bag on the minning companies....

    Just saying....

  6. No, Justin, you don't get to poo-poo this idea just because it came from a Democrat. This is the time for Nevadans to call their legislators at 1-800-978-2878 and DEMAND that Gov Sandogibbons budget that punished Nevada working families for just going to work be DUMPED and instead the FOREIGN MINING CORPORATION INDUSTRY start to pay their fair share in taxes. They have made BILLION off of our misery in the last few years-time to pay for the party!

  7. I never poisoned the land or dug it up to leave big holes. I never took advantage of millions of people of Nevada by coming in the state from a foreign country like Canada, England, and China. . . to take billions of dollars in gold out of the state forever for as little as $300 a claim.

    I am honest. I work hard. I teach people to read. I'm really mad that the GOP has decided to make me the enemy - and I think it's to cover up the scandal. Gold is approaching $1600 an ounce and the BILLIONS taken from the state in the middle of the desert - a quiet rape of our state. They take BILLIONS but a school teacher is bankrupting our state?

    I think it's disgusting that our Governor who is a former mining lobbyist can be so anti-education that he would cater to the big mining corporations by handing kids the bills. Every student is to pay $300 . . . every miner is to be protected. 12,000 miners are worth more than 300,000 Clark County kids and 36,000 Clark County school employees.

    According to studies, there is approximately ONE TRILLION dollars in gold still in the Nevada dirt. When do we plan to ask mining to pay their fair share? How many more politicians will be bought and sold with their parties and money? Will we have any schools left? Will there just be holes and poison? Do we keep giving them the gold for FREE until it's gone? Do we just save a few jobs in Northern Nevada while 36,000 staff in Clark County take the hit? When should they begin to give something SIGNIFICANT back to the state? They throw out a few million here and there to pacify a few people - while they steal BILLIONS.

    Do we care that our Governor is protecting big money executives from other countries - while he throws Nevadans under the bus? How about we keep the money and the profits in Nevada. If the Canadians don't like it - leave. We will find someone else to mine the TRILLION in gold still in the dirt. 150 year old laws - don't work. It's time for mining to pay its fair share.

  8. Angie:

    How come Horsford is will settle for pennies, while blustering as though he is doing something?

    What does this have to do with the governor?

  9. What this has to do with the Governor.
    Sandoval is owned by mining (he still receives checks from them). Anyone standing against his "funding source (personal and political)" will be punished and/or removed from politics.

    Horsford is settling for pennies because if he doesn't then Republicans from across the state will scream bloody murder that he is "anti-business". Don't believe it? Look up the Keystone groups attacks on the LV chamber of commerce.

  10. Thank you, Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, for at the very least, attempting to close a few "mining tax loopholes."

    This is a start, from a far cry from the MINING TAX STRUCTURE REFORM AND OVERHAUL the People of Nevada seek and expect. As the overwhelming bleeding begins with the BUDGET CUT effects, it will become more apparent, people will assemble in the streets, protest, might even riot (given the severity), because their trust in their elected representatives to act on THEIR BEHALF has been breeched. Time will tell.