In Pershing County if you stay at a campground where you pay a fee to camp, there’s a County assessed 12% tax. The tax is called many names: Heads in Beds, Transient Lodging Tax, Room Tax, and Hotel Tax are some examples. It applies to Motor Homes, RVs, Camp Trailers, and Tents as well as Hotel/Motel Rooms. It is in the Pershing County Code under section 3.12.

The businesses in Pershing County that have Motels and Campgrounds are required to collect the 12% Tax and pay it to the City of Lovelock (collector). This process works on the honor system. However there is one entity that doesn’t pay the tax that all others within Pershing County pay. In 2012, it is estimated $354,122.60 in tax revenue for 7,567 Motor Homes (rooms) went uncollected; in 2018, $679,521.27 was uncollected for 11,213 Motor Homes (rooms). The 2012-2018 room tax delinquency is estimated at $3,960,349.47. This delinquency is only for Motor Homes and doesn’t include the other Lodgings at that Campground.

Who is the scofflaw? Why Burning Man, of course.

There seems to be an Urban Legend that Burning Man is exempt from the collection of the room tax. This confusion might be due to AB 374 passed and signed into law in 2013, which made changes to NRS 244, as it relates to the Festival Ordinance, permit fees, and the option of exempting an entity from the State required Festival Ordinance. It does not exempt any business from the Room Tax per Pershing County Code Chapter 3.12. In 2014, Burning Man added Vehicle Passes, costing $40.

This Room Tax estimate is only for Motor Homes. Not the $100,000 Plug-N-Play camps, Containers placed on the Playa, or Yurts and Tents. The motor home information comes directly from the Black Rock City 2012 Oil Drip Monitoring document data.

What is clear from the BLM Draft SRP EIS is this event creates no benefit to Pershing County, instead it continues to provide costs that drains us. Yet no effort is made to address these financial inequities.

David Skelton