Pennsylvania imposes sales tax on cultural nonprofits

Posted on: September 21, 2009

In Sunday’s (9/20) Philadelphia Inquirer, Stephen Salisbury reports, “The budget deal reached late Friday in Harrisburg, which includes an extension of the state sales tax to cultural performances and venues—including museums—has stunned and angered the arts community. … Details of the ticket tax began to become clearer yesterday. Sources familiar with the final package said the deal calls for the creation of a special fund for cultural institutions and the arts. The fund would get the bulk of the ticket-tax revenue—the exact percentage was unclear—and use it to support institutions previously subsidized by the general fund, such as museums, theaters, and zoos. … The $27.9 billion state spending plan announced Friday night includes expansion of the state sales tax to performing-arts programs—dance, music, theater—and other cultural venues, such as museums and zoos, to generate about $100 million. The tax would not be imposed on movies or sports events. ‘It’s sad,’ said Hal Sorgenti, immediate past board chairman of the Philadelphia Orchestra. ‘It would affect not only the orchestra but every single organization in this town. The ballet, the opera, Verizon Hall are all desperately affected. What’s needed is the opposite. What’s needed is significant support to bridge the gap, not a tax to increase prices.’ ”

Posted September 21, 2009