PA bill will eliminate amusement park taxes

Posted Tuesday, February 12, 2008 9:55 AM | Contributed by mike_fenn

Pennsylvania State Sen. Bob Regola is pushing for a tax change that would make amusement parks and water parks happy but likely would upset the municipalities where they are located. Mr. Regola, R-Hempfield, is sponsoring Senate Bill 1012, which would exempt the 18 such parks in the state from paying a local amusement tax levied by their municipalities. The Senate Finance Committee approved the measure yesterday.

Read more from The Post-Gazette.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008 10:32 AM
I'm not sure I'd side with the city manager on this one. Cities also typically offer tax abatements and other incentives to businesses just so they'll set up shop in town (and in Ohio, at least, reap the benefits of individual income tax). So if Kennywood isn't paying at a fully assessed value, who is? I bet very few of the big businesses, most of which don't have a fraction of the positive financial impact that Kennywood does.

Let's face it, these kinds of taxes are an easy target on a big business that can't pick up and move.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008 4:14 PM
I agree-- and Pennsylvania is pretty egregious in that area. They give away the farm to attract a new business or industry, then tax the hell out of all the businesses are already here, including some who have been around for generations.

Senator Ferlo's comparison between parks and professional sports teams has no relevance. But maybe he should be reminded that well over a billion dollars of taxpayer money has been spent in the past decade to provide stadiums and arenas across the state (3 in Pgh, 2 in Philly, Reading, Allentown, Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, Harrisburg... I'm sure there are others). Maybe our parks could start getting subsidized like that to make them more competitive with parks in other states.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008 7:12 PM
What is special about amusement parks that makes it reasonable to collect a special tax on them that is not assessed on any other business? An amusement park pays all of the taxes that any other business pays; by being established businesses they probably do not reap the benefits of tax breaks enjoyed by many much larger businesses; they do not collect taxpayer support for their own infrastructure improvements (as *ahem* certain other entertainment venues often do) and they are frequently assessed (or will willingly pay for) public infrastructure improvements such as water, sewer, electrical, and road access. Why should they be subject to a special tax over and above the normal property, income, business, sales and other taxes?

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008 9:11 PM
The sports stadium thing isn't relevant here because in West Mifflin, the amusment tax is payed by Kennywood and Kennywood alone. There are plenty of other amusement facilities in West Mifflin. Bowling alleys, theaters, batting cages, firing ranges, golf courses, etc. The city has exempted every single business EXCEPT Kennywood Park.

In addition to what Dave said above, Kennywood gets hit with a double whammy... while the sales tax in Pennsylvania is 6%, the sales tax in Allegheny County where Kennywood resides is 7%. The extra 1% goes to fund "Regional Assets" like museums, sports facilities, parks, zoos, etc. Not only is Kennywood being singled out for one tax, but they're taking another one and directly funding the park's competition for entertainment dollars. The 1% tax has given out over $900 million since its inception in the 90s, including $190 million to the stadia. Kennywood doesn't see a dime of that.

Then on top of that, if the GM plant down the road buys a new $2 million piece of equipment, they don't pay taxes on it because it's needed for the operation of the business. If Kennywood buys a new $2 million ride, that doesn't count as a business equipment expense, so they have to pay the 7% sales tax on it. Not only do they have to pay 7% more, but they have to "donate" $20,000 to their competition while they're doing it.

*** This post was edited by kpjb 2/12/2008 9:14:29 PM ***

Tuesday, February 12, 2008 9:12 PM
Exactly, Here in Mason they proposed a tax on KI addmissions and not on Showcase, The Beach and other venues in the area.

Whats funnier is KI was going along with it before the takeover. I don't know where it stands now.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008 10:20 AM
Mason would be stupid to pursue it. CF may have tanked attendance, but they won the bus battle, and exercised their influence in Sandusky for the parking tax.
Thursday, February 14, 2008 1:41 AM
Some history about the Kennywood issue:

Some things that have been happening at Fanasy Island near Buffalo, NY:*** This post was edited by browntggrr 2/14/2008 1:43:50 AM ***

Thursday, February 14, 2008 12:33 PM
From the Pittsburgh live article...

"McAneny said West Mifflin officials "have made it very clear that they never intended to, nor did they, ask any other entertainment producers other than us to collect an amusement tax from their patrons. There are golf courses, paint-ball businesses, Halloween fright nights at the mall. The way they've administered the tax is unconstitutional."

Under the law, however, a business must have a stated admission price, Bednar said.

"Just because you're in the business of being amusing doesn't necessarily mean you're subject to the amusement tax," (borough manager) Bednar said."

Wow, so you can play golf for free in West Mifflin? Sounds like West Mifflin officials are the most amusing of all... though I'm sure they're not subject to paying a tax for the entertainment they provide.

This appears to be a case of spot taxation-- targeting one specific business under the guise of a more general tax. I hope Parques Reunidos stands up to these clods.

If the judge tosses the lawsuit, will there be a future article that says "West Mifflin blames tax increase on its own stupidity, ineptitude and wasting taxpayers' money on a frivolous lawsuit they know they had no prayer of winning"? Oh wait, that's right, they'll probably waste more money appealing the decision if they lose.

Friday, February 15, 2008 4:22 PM
^^ If Martin's Fantasy Island has 100 rides, as that article alleged, I'll eat my hat.

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