CARSON CITY, Nev. – Nevada lawmakers Wednesday considered imposing the state's first tax on legal prostitution.
The tax proposal was sought by Nevada Brothel Association (search) lobbyist George Flint, who asked lawmakers to give his industry the "privilege of participating" in the state's tax system.
Although brothels pay local government taxes and fees, the state has never levied a tax against the 28 bordellos that legally operate in 10 rural counties.
"Candidly, I think it will give us some added acceptability. I think it will probably become money the state will be able to use and appreciate," Flint said.
"I know there are some of you that have philosophical problems, and maybe moral problems (with prostitution). I hope you can look beyond that and see the overall good that can be accomplished."
Democratic Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie (search), the bill's sponsor, said she opposes prostitution, but believes as long as it's legal the brothel owners should pay their fair share.
The bill would put a 10 percent tax on food and drink served in bordellos and a $2-per-customer fee. Prostitutes are independent contractors, generally splitting their earnings with the house. They would not shoulder any additional tax burden.
The new bill would deliver about $3.2 million to the state over the next two years, Flint said.
Wednesday's hearing was a subdued affair, compared with previous lobbying efforts. At a 1991 hearing, Flint brought a former prostitute to appeal to lawmakers.
"We were the only industry that came out in support of the tax on services," he said Wednesday.
The brothels are again standing alone. With the state facing a surplus of more than $300 million, legislative debate has focused on rebating taxes, not raising them.
Republican Gov. Kenny Guinn (search) has said he will veto any tax increase that lands on his desk. He has not said whether he considers the brothel bill a tax hike.
The bill is in committee, and no vote was scheduled.