Tax Break for ‘A-List’ Entertainers Latest Silly Idea to Come from the State House

Gordon MacInnesThis afternoon a Senate committee advanced a misguided tax break aimed at celebrity entertainers in a weak attempt to help boost tourism in New Jersey.

The bill (S-2721) would provide a 100-percent New Jersey income tax break to “A-list” entertainers who perform in Atlantic City at least four times in one year. The tax break would extend not just to those performances in Atlantic City, but to that entertainer’s performances anywhere in the state in the same year.

In other words, if Katy Perry, who made $135 million last year, played four times in Atlantic City and also did a two-week run of 10 shows at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey would free her from paying state income taxes on any of the 14 concerts.

The individuals chosen to receive this tax break could be singers, dancers, comics or athletes participating in a sporting event. The bill, which hopes to encourage residency-style programming made popular in Las Vegas, was recently dubbed the “silliest tax proposal of the year” by the Deputy Publisher of industry publication State Tax Notes, who said the proposal represents “all that is wrong with the way we approach taxes in America.”

Indeed. The bill is another trickle-down policy that won’t grow the state’s economy. Wealthy entertainers don’t pick concert venues for their tax rates – they go where they will find an audience. If entertainers want to “do AC,” New Jersey should tax them and use the revenue for important resources to actually build the state economy, like good schools and efficient transportation networks.

All the facts confirm that the only folks gaining income since the Great Recession are those in the top tax brackets, particularly the very top. They’re the least in need of tax breaks. New Jersey needs funds to invest in the proven assets that bring better times to all New Jerseyans. This bill just shrinks the dwindling pot.