Thursday, August 26, 2010

Live Racing with Dead Horses: Brought to you by the Beshear administration

There is good news for horse racing: euthanizing horses will no longer necessarily end their racing career. At least not if the Beshear administration has its way.

While it has always been thought that "live racing" involved living, breathing horses making a dash for the finish like, lawyers at the state's Revenue Department are now arguing that "live racing" can actually involve dead horses.

In a brief filed by Kentucky Revenue Department lawyers with the Franklin Circuit Court, they argue that current laws allowing them to collect taxes on "money wagered on live races at the track" can be interpreted to allow them to collect taxes on money wagered on slot-machine like games called "Instant Racing" in which betters bet on the outcome of videos of old horse races which include horses that long ago assumed room temperature.

We now go live, so to speak, to Louisville Courier-Journal reporter Greg Hall, who must have thought he had fallen down the rabbit hole when he read the Department's brief, filed today, which asks the court to go along with its interpretation of the state's pari-mutuel excise tax which would allow it to tax Instant Racing revenues:
The department argues that state law does not define “live racing,” and that all forms of gambling at tracks not specifically exempted by the legislature are covered by the tax.

“From the perspective of a wagerer, a historic horse race is very much ‘live’ — the wagerer does not know the outcome of the historical horse race in advance any more than a wagerer at a track knows the outcome of a race physically conducted at that track,” the eight-page brief says. “Consequently, in this context, ‘live’ simply means ‘being in play’ or ‘of continuing or current interest.’”
Now, since the Finance Department's lawyers apparently neglected to do it, I have taken the liberty of checking a dictionary for the definition of the word "live." The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines the adjective "live" as "living." Hmmm.

Another dictionary defines "live" as "actually being performed at the time of hearing or viewing." As far as I can determine, no dictionary defines "live" as "pre-recorded many years ago and having no possible relation to anything actually going on now except if it involves a way for someone to make money."

Incidentally, while I was at it, I also looked up the word "deception," and it did not, as I thought it might, have any pictures of State Finance Department lawyers.

So there you have it. The State Finance Department thinks you can have live racing with dead horses.

Now the question is, if the people who collect our taxes take this much liberty in interpreting what they can tax, can we take the same liberties in interpreting the laws they use to tax us?

No comments: