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New Ticket Tax Exemptions Announced for Smaller Venues and Events

Walker Evans Walker Evans New Ticket Tax Exemptions Announced for Smaller Venues and Events
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After multiple rounds of public input, representatives from the Greater Columbus Arts Council (GCAC) have unveiled some revisions and exemptions to its ticket fee proposal that would help fund local arts and performance venues through a 7 percent tax. Essentially, the new exemptions would apply to smaller venues and smaller events, keeping them outside the realm of the taxation process.

“These proposed changes would exempt a number of live events around the city, children’s tickets in most cases, as well as non-ticketed and smaller cash-based cover charges,” stated GCAC President and CEO Tom Katzenmeyer. “Our goal was to reduce or eliminate the administrative burden on smaller businesses, organizations and projects. We also hope that these recommendations would encourage advance ticket sales where the advance price is $10 and under.”

The specifics of the exemptions, direct from the language provided by GCAC, is as follows:

  • If the event occurs at a live performance or event venue of 400 seats or less, the fee shall not be applied.
  • If the event price at a live performance or event venue falls at or below $10, the fee shall not be applied.
  • Events the Arts Council recommends not including in the definition of ticket or admission: Race and walk registrations; registration fees for classes, lectures, workshops, camps, culinary, brewery, distillery and cultural tours and tastings; complimentary tickets; free events; pay-what-you-can event access; charges outside of admission incurred in the process of producing or attending an event (vendor space rental, parking, food, beverages, rides); charitable events solely benefiting the operations of a nonprofit organization*; memberships which are not attached to admission to an event or venue (shopping clubs, service organizations, maker-spaces); benefits beyond the value of admissions or tickets (space rental, complimentary tickets, reciprocal memberships, catalogs); lane fees at bowling alleys; admissions or fees for animals entering an event or venue. (*Events in which only partial proceeds benefit a nonprofit organization and the remainder go to a for-profit entity would have to apply the fee.)
  • Memberships, season tickets and subscription series: Attractions would apply the fee to the value of a one-time admittance for the number of individuals covered by the membership. Performing arts and sports would apply the fee to the total purchase price of the tickets within the season or subscription. (For organizations operating venues outside the city of Columbus, the fee shall be applied only on memberships purchased at the Columbus venues.)
  • Requirement for GCAC Operating Support Grantees: in order to receive an Operating Support grant from GCAC, organizations with, or using venues of 400 seats or less, or holding events charging $10 or less for a ticket, must voluntarily apply the 7 percent fee.
  • Exemptions currently understood to be in place under Ohio law and previously stipulated by other municipalities: All K-12 sporting events and college sporting events, at any venue; admissions to events for the exclusive benefit of: religious institutions, persons in U.S. military forces, Columbus Public Schools, Columbus Police, Columbus Fire, City of Columbus, State of Ohio, or any political subdivision.

“We understand these exemption recommendations would result in a loss of proceeds from admissions,” said Katzenmeyer. “But we listened to the community and we know this is the right thing to do.”

GCAC, along with the Franklin County Convention Center Facilities Authority, would also be required to publicly report on an annual basis where all proceeds from the ticket fee have been reinvested into the community. GCAC is projecting that the ticket fees will raise an extra $14 million per year, with 70 percent of those proceeds going toward arts programs, institutions and individual arts grants, and the other 30 percent funding improvements to the now publicly-owned Nationwide Arena.

The ticket tax proposal will be reviewed and considered by Columbus City Council at a future date.

For more information, visit www.gcac.org.

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