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City Starts Collecting GCAC Admissions Tax

Susan Post Susan Post City Starts Collecting GCAC Admissions TaxPhoto by Walker Evans.
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If you’ve purchased tickets to any events held in Columbus since July, you may have noticed an extra tax on the price of admission. Commonly referred to as the “Ticket Tax,” the Admissions Tax supporting the Greater Columbus Arts Council (GCAC) and Nationwide Arena rather quietly went into effect on July 1, 2019.

The 5% tax levied on “amounts received as admission to any place located within the City of Columbus” is split into two ordinances – a tax collected on events held at Nationwide Arena, and a tax collected on events held at venues other than Nationwide Arena. As outlined by the Columbus Division of Income Tax:

  • The 5% tax collected on events held at venues other than Nationwide Arena is allocated to the Greater Columbus Arts Council to support arts institutions, artists, education, inclusion and innovation in programming.
  • 80% of the 5% tax collected at events held at Nationwide Arena is allocated to Nationwide Arena for long-term capital improvements and building maintenance. 20% of the 5% tax collected on events held at Nationwide Arena is allocated to the Greater Columbus Arts Council for cultural arts facilities, public art, sports venues, and performance art spaces.

In understanding how the tax impacts the average Columbusite’s event cost, there are other details of note. First, taxable admissions go beyond tickets to events, but include season tickets, packages, movie theater tickets, memberships, subscriptions, golf course greens fees and cover charges. Also, the individual purchasing admission to an event is technically financially responsible for paying the tax, however it is the responsibility of the vendor charging admission – i.e. host of the event – to collect and remit the tax. 

Vendors or event hosts do not have to disclose when they are charging the tax. There’s no requirement to list the Admissions Tax out as a separate line item. That means organizations holding events can just wrap the 5% increase into the base price of a ticket or membership. However, even if they don’t add an extra 5%, vendors are still responsible for paying the tax, meaning the money then comes out of their pocket.

Although not required, some cultural institutions are addressing the new tax head on in communications with their patrons.

On their website, the Franklin Park Conservatory dubs the tax the “Columbus Arts & Culture Fee” and states that, “For all tickets purchased on or after July 1, 2019, a 5% ticket fee will be applied.”

The Ohio History Connection has also provided transparency for its upcoming All Hallow’s Eve event, stating, “Included in this total ticket price is a 5% arts and culture fee on the base ticket as required by the City of Columbus.”

Additionally, the Columbus Symphony and ProMusica Chamber Orchestra include notes about the application of the tax for memberships and tickets purchased after July 1.

While the tax impacts a number of ticket prices and venues throughout the city, event-goers won’t be paying the 5% tax on any and all events. A number of exemptions exist. The most common include exemptions for admissions of less than $10 or admissions to an event at a venue with a capacity of 400 or less. A vendor only needs to meet one requirement to be eligible for an exemption.

Additional Reading: What Your Small Business Needs to Know about the GCAC Admissions Tax on The Metropreneur

Events hosted by non-profits are also largely exempt, except for organizations that receive operating support from GCAC.

How does a business or event vendor know if they have to collect the tax? The Metropreneur recently outlined the Admissions Tax in a deep dive, from guidelines to how to file. Read more here.

For more information on the Admissions Tax, visit gcac.org.

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