03/13/2013 09:32 pm ET Updated May 13, 2013

Burning Man Tax? State Of Nevada Looks To Cash In On Black Rock City

A week in Black Rock City ain't cheap -- any loyal Burner will attest to that.

In addition to the $380 entrance fee, the cost of transporting and sustaining one's self, a themed camp, and any number of art cars and installations for a week in the harsh desert during the peak of summer can reach thousands of dollars. (Or much, much higher, in the case of some particularly spend-happy campers.)

And now, the state of Nevada -- where the annual festival of 60,000 assembles each August -- wants its own slice of the pie.

Silver State lawmakers recently expressed interest in taxing Burning Man's ticket sales, which net some $22 million per year.

"It's how many people and they pay how much?" Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis (D-Las Vegas) said to the Las Vegas Sun. "I definitely think we ought to look at that."

Applying the Nevadas's five percent "live entertainment" tax to ticket sales would generate more than $1 million for the state's coffers. But as it stands, Burning Man remains exempt from said fee, as the event is held outdoors.

Burning Man executives, who recently traveled to Carson City to discuss the matter with officials, argue that the festival itself provides enough of an economic boon to Nevada.

"Burning Man already generates tremendous revenue for the State of Nevada through our permits, contracts and participant spending," Ray Allen, the organization's government and legal affairs manager, told The Huffington Post.

According to Allen, the event contributes an estimated $4.5 million to local, state and federal government entities every year. That figure doesn't include the millions of dollars spent in travel to the Reno-Tahoe International Airport and on the purchasing of local goods and services.

Last August, Burning Man organizers filed a lawsuit against Pershing County, where the festival is held, challenging a separate slew of fee increases.

While leaders of the pack enjoy its current location ("For more than 20 years, the Burning Man community has proudly made northern Nevada its home," founder Larry Harvey said in a statement), they admit it wouldn't be out of the question to relocate entirely, especially if added costs become burdensome.

A recent post entitled "Does Burning Man Need A New Home?" on community blog asserted that "moving Burning Man would be good for us in many ways." Harvey himself has said that he would consider a new spot should Nevada officials continue to impose excessive fees.

Still, many supporters claim much of the festival's magic comes with its surroundings. "My favorite part of Burning Man is the Black Rock Desert itself," wrote user stereolambda on the same blog. "The stunning beauty and sensual delight of the event would be lost in another location."



Burning Man 2012