The Nevada Commerce Tax Repeal Referendum will not appear on the ballot in Nevada as a veto referendum on November 6, 2018.
The measure was designed to repeal portions of Senate Bill 483 (SB 483), which enacted a commerce tax on the state gross revenue of businesses exceeding $4 million in a fiscal year. The commerce tax rate varied based on business categories.
The highest tax rate was 0.331 percent, which applied to rail transportation businesses. The lowest tax rate was 0.051 percent, which applied to mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction businesses.
The state legislature passed SB 483 in 2015. The bill received support from legislative Democrats and around two-thirds of legislative Republicans. Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) signed the bill into law on June 9, 2015. For the fiscal year between July 1, 2015, and June 30, 2016, the commerce tax brought in $143.5 million in state revenue.
Ron Knecht (R), the state’s chief fiscal officer, and Bob Beers, a former member of the Las Vegas City Council, created the Repeal the Commerce Tax, Inc. PAC to campaign for the referendum.
Path to the ballot
In Nevada, the number of signatures required for a veto referendum to be certified for the ballot is equivalent to 10 percent of the total votes cast in the most recent general election. For 2018 veto referendums, the number of valid signatures required was 112,543. As Nevada has a distribution requirement, signatures need to be distributed throughout the state’s four congressional districts. At least 28,136 signatures needed to be collected from each district. Proponents of the referendum had until June 19, 2018, to collect signatures.
Ron Knecht (R), the state’s chief fiscal officer, and Bob Beers, a former member of the Las Vegas City Council, created the Repeal the Commerce Tax, Inc. PAC to campaign for the referendum. The referendum was filed with the secretary of state’s office on August 2, 2017. Also on August 2, Knecht and Beers filed an intent to circulate a referendum document. The original petition was withdrawn, and a new petition for the referendum was filed on August 18, 2017.
Knecht and Beers attempted to get a referendum on the commerce tax placed on the ballot for the election on November 8, 2016. The Nevada Supreme Court ruled against the referendum’s petition language on May 10, 2016, saying the petition omitted information about how repealing the commerce tax would impact the state budget. Signatures collected before the ruling were invalidated. Knecht said his campaign wrote the 2018 referendum in light of the court’s ruling. He stated, “It will be awful hard for somebody to challenge this because the last time the Supreme Court approved the text and just took issue with the description of the effects