If you’re planning on attending Burning Man this year, be prepared to pay more for tickets. The Nevada Department of Taxation informed the organizers of the festival this week in a letter that stated if more than 15,000 tickets are sold, the event would qualify for the Live Entertainment Tax.
The letter posted at ABC News stated the following.
“The activities that take place during Burning Man constitute live entertainment, whether or not those activities are provided by patrons of the event. Because Black Rock City is located on public land and access to the area during the event is limited to those who have purchased tickets, it meets the definition of a facility,” wrote Nevada Department of Taxation Executive Director Deonne Contine. “Because Burning Man collects the taxable receipts from those attending the event, Burning Man is the taxpayer and responsible for paying (Live Entertainment Taxes) to the State of Nevada.”
The organization had no comment about the decision, but had tried to fight it as their argument was that the patrons brought the entertainment, not the organizers.
“From our perspective, this is the latest attempt by an outside entity to unfairly tap the resources of Burning Man and its participants,” wrote Burning Man’s legal counsel, Elizabeth Stallard, in December. “Some seem to view Burning Man as the ‘golden goose’ they can turn to when they want money for other projects.”
Recently, Nevada lawmakers expanded the definition of “entertainment” in the law to include events such as Burning Man to qualify for the tax.
Since it’s inception in 1986, Burning Man has amassed over tens of thousands of patrons in the previous years. In 2011, audience was capped to allow only 50,000 participants at the event. The number was increased to 70,000 last year.
According to the official Burning Man website.
“Once a year, tens of thousands of people gather in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert to create Black Rock City, a temporary metropolis dedicated to community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance. In this crucible of creativity, all are welcome.”
People from all over the world flock to the annual Labor Day weekend event. Burning Man is described as an experiment in community and art. It follows many principals including; “radical inclusion,” self-reliance and self-expression, community cooperation, gifting, decommodification, and leaving no trace.
Burning Man begins on the last Monday of August, and ends on the first Monday of September. Patrons who pilgrimage to Black Rock, live in a community where no one is judged for being different, but everyone works as a community.
“Burning Man is an annual experiment in temporary community dedicated to radical self-expression and radical self-reliance… Burning Man is also a thriving worldwide community of participants, with events happening all over the globe. The culture spawned in the desert has taken root everywhere!”
The entire camp site is converted into a mini village filled with art including building, interactive sculpture, performance, cars and other mediums inspired by that year’s theme. The name Burning Man was conceived due to the symbolic ritual of burning a large wooden effigy, known to patrons as “the man” which occurs on the Saturday of the event. In recent years, many smaller festivals have taken shape across the region that have the same idealistic beliefs as that of Burning Man. The festival chose to endorse some of the events. Recently, Burning Man has made an impact on pop culture, with an episode of the hit animated series The Simpsons using Burning Man as part of the main plot.
The festival is organized by the Burning Man Project, a non-profit organization that qualified to be Limited Liability Company for profit in 2014.
[Header photo by David McNew/Newsmakers-Getty Images]