How likely is it that Knoxville will lose $1.5 M?

Not very.

After reading higher ed reporter Megan Boehnke’s story on the amusement tax, I called up Charles Swanson to see what more he had to say about the tax. To catch you up to speed, here’s a bit of the set up from Megan’s story:

The university, however, does not want to lower ticket prices, said Senior Associate Athletic Director Bill Myers. Rather, UT Athletics want to keep roughly $1.5 million it’s currently collecting on behalf of the city and county and use it toward planned construction projects and making up the $4 million budget shortfall the athletics department faced last year.

The tax dates back to state legislation passed in the 1940s and applies only to Knox County. The law has since been whittled down with exemptions over the years and now largely targets movie theatres outside the central business district and regular-season college athletic events in Thompson-Boling Arena and Neyland Stadium.

“We’re the only entity in the state that pays this tax — I’m talking about university athletic programs,” said Chancellor Jimmy Cheek. “Vanderbilt doesn’t pay it, University of Memphis doesn’t pay it, ETSU doesn’t pay it. It’s a state law that affects only Knox County.”

It’s an unfair tax, he said.

It would take an act of the General Assembly in order to change the law, which is unlikely.

Swanson said:

I have not heard anything that causes me to believe that a change is imminent. This is something that happens every time there’s a new athletic administration over there, and it gets around to questioning the amusement tax. This is one of those periodic things that comes up.

Not the first time this has come up, it appears. So will we see legislation introduced to change the rules? Again, Swanson:

I’m not aware.

Don’t expect to see revenue go up or down in connection to that in either the city, county or school.


About Gerald

A journalist in Knoxville, TN. Work (mostly) inside and play (mostly) outside. I'm a part of the X or the Y generation. None of us claim the other.
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