New Jersey lawmakers reaching for the stars with plan to help revive Atlantic City

 A-list celebrities such as Britney Spears, pictured here at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards, might spend more time in Atlantic City in order to get a tax break. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

A-list celebrities such as Britney Spears, pictured here at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards, might spend more time in Atlantic City in order to get a tax break. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

With approval from a Senate committee, a measure to give top-ranked entertainers a tax break is gaining traction in New Jersey.

A-list performers would get a 100 percent credit on income from all their New Jersey shows if they perform at least four separate shows in the Atlantic City Tourism District.

Calling it a trickle-down policy that won’t benefit the state, New Jersey Policy Perspective said it would shrink funding for needed programs.

But Sen. Sam Thompson said  the growth in revenue from tourism would make up for the loss of revenue from the tax credits.

“I don’t think we have a lot of A-list performers that come and spend at least four occasions in Atlantic City,” said Thompson, R-Middlesex. “If this encourages them to come back three more times, the benefit is going to far outweigh whatever loss we may have there.”

If the measure is enacted, the Secretary of State would determine which entertainers are eligible for the tax break.

Senator Shirley Turner joined other members of the Senate Government Committee Monday in advancing the measure, even though she questioned the criteria for determining who gets the tax credit.

“I’m not so sure I would want to leave it up to the Secretary of State as far as who’s going to be the A list because now somebody like Maroon 5, who are they? I’ve never heard of them,” said Turner, D-Mercer. “My A list may be somebody else’s B list.”

Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean, one of the sponsors of the legislation, said it could turbocharge Atlantic City’s efforts to boost its entertainment attractions and help grow the economy.

“You would have individuals who are building the stage, the restaurants, the hotels. You’d have more individuals participating throughout the state of New Jersey, arguably bringing more tax revenue because you have this four-performance minimum requirement,” said Kean of Union County.

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