Wednesday, May 5, 2010

That's Entertainment (And Thus Is Taxable)

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has affirmed a determination that the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra must pay a 5% tax on the sale of concert tickets. The symphony had argued that the concerts were primarily intended to be for education, rather than entertainment, and were thus exempt from taxation. The court found that there was an evidentiary basis for the conclusions of the Tax Appeals Commission that the concerts were properly treated as entertainment.

There is a concurring/dissenting opinion that would hold that the primary purpose of certain youth concerts was educational, applying an analysis of the question:

...because the Youth Concerts will cause a child's knowledge to expand as the child is presented with a new musical genre or the exposure to orchestral instruments with which he is not familiar, thereby educating the child, and during the concerts the child's time will pass agreeably, thereby entertaining the child, I must determine how the Youth Concerts' taxable and nontaxable attributes are to be evaluated.  See Webster's Third New International Dictionary, 723, 757 (1961) (defining educate and entertainment).  In so determining, I examine the Youth Concerts' attributes first from the perspective of the Milwaukee Symphony, the entity that presented the concerts, and then from the perspective of the educators who took their classes to the concerts during the school day, based in part on the way in which the Youth Concerts were marketed.

The concurring/dissenting opinion examined the various performances to high school, middle school and other venues including Kinderkonzerts.  (Mike Frisch)

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