Amusement tax needs to be explained better

Published 6:53 pm Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The city of Selma decided earlier this month that it’ll crack down on its amusement tax, which will be collected as part of admission for events within the city limits.

Although there’s some confusion about it, the tax isn’t new. It just hasn’t been enforced over the years and as we understand, has gone mostly uncollected. Now, the city has decided to start collecting it again.

According to the Alabama Department of Revenue’s website, the amusement tax would be a total of 10 percent, with 4.5 percent going to the city, 1.5 percent going to the county and 4 percent going to the state.

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It’s in the city’s best interest to hold multiple meetings about the tax, so that organizations that run events, such as the Alabama River Chili Cookoff or the fair, understand how it’ll operate. There’s also some confusion over what events will have to charge the amusement tax. What if an organization, like a church, charged $1 to get into an event. Would the amusement tax be charged in that case? What if the same church charged a “donation” to attend the same fundraiser, instead of charging an admission? Would the different terminology result in not having to pay the amusement tax?

We honestly aren’t sure. That’s why it’s important for the city to specify how the tax will operate.

The amusement tax isn’t even the biggest tax issue the city has right now.

The city is owed an estimated $1 million in unpaid sales tax dollars.

We believe the city should start by going after those businesses first and then making sure the rib cookoff or raft race has paid its amusement tax.