By Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau: The Nevada Mining Association has filed a court challenge to the initiative petition filed by Nevadans United for Fair Mining Taxes that could lead to a tax increase on the industry from 5 percent to 9 percent.
The complaint filed Wednesday in Carson City District Court alleges the petition “provides a legally insufficient and misleading description of effect and creates hidden yet critical conflicts with a number of state and federal constitutional provisions, including contravening the basic requirement that property taxation in Nevada be uniform, equal and based on just valuations.”
The petition to amend the Nevada constitution should be declared invalid, the complaint says.
The petition was filed Jan. 31.
At the time, Vegas businessman Monte Miller, who heads up the group, said his proposal was not a tax increase.
“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,” he said in a statement.
But the mining association complaint said the petition is misleading to voters.
“Proponents’ assault on fair taxation, without proper information being given to the voters and petition-signers, cannot be sustained and the petition cannot be presented to the people in its current form,” the complaint said. “Furthermore, proponents’ description of effect fails to provide any information regarding the ‘effect’ of the petition necessary to the decision-making process of Nevada voters. The petition fails, therefore, to meet the basic requirements for a constitutional initiative under Nevada Law.”
Maggie McLetchie, attorney for Nevadans United for Fair Mining Taxes, said the group has not been served yet with the complaint and so she could not comment in any detail.
But she did say the petition is very simple, changing only one number in the mining tax cap from 5 percent to 9 percent.
“I’m not surprised the mining association filed something,” McLetchie said. “But the petition is not misleading. It changes one number. It is straightforward about what it does and does not do.”
The Legislative Counsel Bureau, which provided a financial impact assessment of the proposal, said the effect of the measure, if passed, is unknown because it would only change the constitution to allow for an increase in the tax rate. The Legislature and governor would have to approve any actual change in the tax rate, the statement said.
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.”