Ballot Question May Be Misleading - 8 News NOW

Ballot Question May Be Misleading

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LAS VEGAS -- The way you pay for products on the internet may change this election and many voters don't even know it. On the surface, ballot question three is about changing the state's tax code. But a yes vote gives state lawmakers the option to tax internet sales.

As it stands now, most out of state companies do not pay Nevada sales tax on purchases made within the state. So, a group of Republican lawmakers wrote up a bill to close up what they call a loophole.

The catch is, nowhere in the ballot question are the words "internet" or "computer," leaving voters confused about what they're choosing.

Question three's title: Amendment to the Sales and Use Tax Act of 1955.

"It must be coming up for review since it was based on 1955. I'm assuming in the next couple of years, it's coming up for review. I don't understand why they're even addressing it," said voter Cathy Longman.

But what does the bill mean?

"Ballot question three is a sales tax issue that will level the playing field. Right now, sales taxes are collected by our main street merchants, but if you buy over the internet, unless there is a nexus with Nevada, you do not pay sales tax," said Republican Assemblyman Tom Grady.

That means internet retailers Zappos in Henderson and Amazon in Fernley will not be affected. Grady says they pay their fair share.

It's other out-of-state internet companies that could be charged -- taxes that could be passed on to consumers.

The catch is nowhere in the ballot does it even mention internet sales tax. It is found on page three of the full text of the bill.

"That's pretty sneaky," said former Nevada GOP chair Marilyn Gubler. "I think that's very deceptive. I'd love to go change my vote."

"I think it should be more explanatory. I don't even know what it means," said voter Brandon Anderson.

To be clear, if ballot question three passes, taxes on internet sales will not immediately go up. It gives state lawmakers the legal option to join 44 other states that currently tax most forms of internet sales.

The issue of internet sales tax could become an issue as state lawmakers look to balance the budget this spring.

The state Department of Taxation says this law change could bring in $350 million to help balance the budget. They add that only Congress has the power to raise interstate taxes on internet purchases.

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