April 25, 2022
Clark County’s Relentless Taxes and Fees Add up for Local Residents and Businesses
By Drew Johnson
A version of this op-ed originally appeared in Liberty Watch Magazine.
Clark County, the county where Las Vegas is located, is known for a taxpayer-friendly, pro-business climate. At least it used to be.
Unfortunately, in this case, climate change is very real.
While Nevada’s status as an income-tax free state is certainly worthy of praise, the reality is Clark County is headed in the wrong direction. In recent years, residents, business owners, tourists and pretty much anyone who has set foot inside Nevada’s most populous county has been nickel-and-dimed into submission with a litany of taxes and fees.
While the fees and taxes are often fairly low, they add up. They apply to every imaginable business and impact almost every single aspect of life in Clark County
And there’s no end in sight. The Clark County Commission invents more fees and hikes tax rates higher and higher every year.
In the song “Taxman,” The Beatles famously sang:
“I’ll tax the street
(If you try to sit) I’ll tax your seat
(If you get too cold) I’ll tax the heat
(If you take a walk) I’ll tax your feet”
Well, all of those things are taxed in Clark County.
The streets are taxed through some of the highest local fuel taxes in America. Clark County and the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada combine to tax drivers more than $0.29 per gallon – or $5.80 for a 20-gallon fill-up. And that’s on top of Nevada’s state gas tax of $0.20 per gallon.
Prices at the pump will continue to skyrocket for Clark County drivers for years to come. That’s because of a law in place that will hike the cost of local gas taxes to reflect increases in inflation until 2026.
In Clark County, if you buy a chair, you’ll have to pony up a 8.375% sales tax, including a 4.6% state sales tax and a 3.55% local tax – the highest local rate allowed under state law.
Clark County also manages to tax people’s feet – including $245 in county fees for a reflexologist who provides message services to the feet, and $300 in annual charges for podiatrists. Those fees are ultimately paid by their sore-footed patients in the form of higher prices. And there’s also that sky-high sales tax on shoes and socks.
Las Vegas may be known as the Marriage Capital of the World, but lovebirds have to pay a price to get married in Sin City. Clark County requires a mandatory $102 marriage license fee. Getting married at the courthouse costs another $75. Wedding chapels pay a $500 annual fee for a license to marry people in Clark County, which makes the bill a little higher for every couple who decide that they’re goin’ to the chapel and they’re gonna get married.
If the couple wants a friend or family member to marry them, that requires an additional $55 fee. Once the wedding is over, the newlyweds are slapped with a $6 charge for each copy of their marriage certificate.
If, after a few days, the marriage seems like a bad idea, it’s possible to seek an annulment – but not until the county collects $269 in fees.
Maybe a psychic could’ve warned against the marriage, but even their prices are higher because of county licensing fees. Tarot card readers, psychic mediums, crystal gazers and other shady hucksters practicing what county bureaucrats call “Psychic Arts Services” have to pay the county a one-time $45 application fee, then a $150 annual business license tax. It’s hard to know who rips off people worse – psychics or the Clark County government.
The government even makes dying expensive in Clark County. The county charges cemeteries, cemetery management services, crematories, funeral homes, morticians and even pet cemeteries a business fee based on how much an entrepreneur or business earns in gross sales.
Those costs, which can be less than $100 annually for a small, part-time business, or well over $1,500 a year for a successful funeral home or cemetery, are all passed along to grieving customers.
But the county’s fees don’t end at the grave. Want proof that a loved one died? Be prepared to pony up $38 for a copy of a death certificate and another $13 for a mandatory registration fee to the Southern Nevada Health District.
Even man’s best friend is taxed in Clark County. Residents who own more than three dogs are required to inform the county and pay a $50 fee for an annual inspection of the home by the animal control officer.
If all these taxes and fees are enough to drive you to drink, I have some bad news. On top of state taxes that are already rolled into the price of alcoholic beverages, restaurants, breweries, bars and liquor stores are forced to pay a series of county fees. These fees typically reach well into the thousands of dollars, and make every pint of beer, glass of wine or shot of whiskey a little more expensive – and a little less enjoyable.
Sadly, the County’s leaders have given up trying to grow the economy and attract businesses by keeping taxes and fees low. Instead, they’ve decided to embrace the socialist approach of trying to snatch every last penny from every available pocket.
As a result, many Clark County residents, business owners and visitors feel ripped off and taken advantage of by the local government. And with dozens of taxes and hundreds of fees, it’s easy to understand why.
Clark County’s reputation for being a low-tax, business-friendly locale with few regulatory burdens used to be deserved. But the county no longer lives up to its reputation.
Drew Johnson is a Senior Fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research and a columnist at Newsmax and Townhall. The Summerlin South resident is a candidate for Clark County Commission in District F. For more information, visit DrewForNevada.com.