For burners and festival enthusiasts, December usually means the release of ticket information for the following year’s Burning Man. But a few weeks ago, the organization that runs the annual gathering in Northern Nevada revealed that it’s delaying the platformed onsale to contest the state’s expanded live-entertainment tax, which could extract 9 percent from each attendee, or nearly $3 million overall.
“While we support Nevada’s right to collect fair taxes, we don’t believe the LET applies to Burning Man, and we intend to challenge it,” Burning Man’s communications team wrote on the event’s blog, later stating, “It’s clear from this legislation the Burning Man event has been misunderstood.”
Burning Man describes itself as an experiment in community and art, and has always rejected the music-festival descriptor. DJs (and the rare live act) do perform, but only at the attendees’ theme camps and art cars; they are not booked by BM. Aside from producing the big Saturday night burn, the primary objectives of BM’s staff are providing infrastructure for and managing the temporary city. As such, organizers have already argued in a clarification-seeking letter to the Nevada Department of Taxation that Burning Man is not an entertainment event, unlike exempted events like sporting games and NASCAR races.
The aforementioned blog also claims that the gathering generates some $50 million for the state. “From our perspective, this is the latest attempt by an outside entity to unfairly tap the resources of Burning Man and its participants.”