I have been a Neuse Little Theatre volunteer since November 1989, and I have even worked back stage for a handful of dance recitals at Johnston Community College. I also frequent movie theaters. But I’m OK with paying state and local sales taxes on tickets and concessions.
For starters, why should the state exempt tickets and concessions when it taxes other discretionary spending? When I buy a book, movie or CD at a brick-and-mortar store, I pay the sales tax. Why should I get a tax break at the movie theater, community theater or music hall? When I eat out, which is often, I pay the sales tax. Why not at the concessions stand?
It matters too that I don’t have to go to the movie theater or community theater. Which is to say that I would rather the state tax ticket sales than return to taxing food and drugs or raise the sales tax on other necessities such as clothing.
I suppose I could take exception with the sales tax falling on nonprofits like the Neuse Little Theatre and Clayton Youth Theater. But as much as I love the NLT, it competes for entertainment dollars with taxpaying businesses that provide jobs. If the Howell Theatre and Smithfield Cinemas have to pay the sales tax, then so should the nonprofit NLT, which creates volunteers, not jobs.
Granted, this is not the best time to be taxing ticket sales. Discretionary spending falls in a recession, and Johnston County’s economy remains sluggish, which means groups like the NLT don’t really need another expense. But the NLT, for one, stages quality shows for a loyal audience, so I don’t expect ticket sales to suffer even though the NLT has raised ticket prices by a dollar.
It’s true too that Johnston Community College has high rental demand for its auditorium space and that 2013 was a banner year for the film industry. As long as both continue to deliver quality, they will weather the storm too.
Since the 1960s, North Carolinians have paid a sales tax on a variety of items. It strikes me as fair that the General Assembly extended the sales tax to entertainment.