Like others around Ohio, the Portage County Fair Board is wondering what effect Gov. John Kasich's proposal to include sales tax on fairs and other events will have on their annual event.
The governor's plan is to have dozens of previously exempt activities and services, including county fairs, pay a 5 percent sales tax. The board will have its first opportunity to discuss the issue when it meets Wednesday.
Board president Charles Breiding said he's concerned that smaller, less financially stable fairs could be hit hard by the sales tax on entertainment admissions, if it is OK'd by the state Legislature.
"I'm sure it would put them in a tremendous bind or put them out of business," Breiding said.
He said he's concerned a sales tax would raise ticket prices and put a damper on attendance. The fair's general admission price of $5 would go up 25 cents and prices would rise on season passes and grandstand admission as well.
It would be multiple taxes if a family rides any of the amusement rides and then takes in a grandstand event like the demolition derby or a concert, Breiding said.
"It would definitely hurt us," he said. "It's just going to trickle down to anything that happens."
Currently, the state sales tax law exempts fairs, churches and other nonprofits from collecting sales tax if their sales events total no more than six days in a calendar year. There's no word on whether the governor's sales tax proposal would change that.
If a vendor has no seating for customers, food would continue to be not taxable, according to information provided by Gary Gudmundson of the Ohio Department of Taxation.
The governor's proposal could also cause prices for entertainers to go up as performers would have to charge and collect a tax for their services.
Breiding said he's concerned if the admission gates have to handle coins in change.
"That will slow down everything that comes into that fair. The lines will be longer, people will be upset," he said.
Breiding said he plans to talk directly with local state legislators Rep. Kathleen Clyde and Sen. John Eklund about their concerns.
"We're looking at taxing every bit of entertainment. It would definitely be something that would hurt our fair financially," he said.
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