New Jersey lawmakers eye tax-free gigs for stars who play 4 or more nights in Atlantic City

Stars who play at least four nights in Atlantic City would be freed from having to pay state income taxes on all shows in the state that year under the latest proposal to revive the struggling seaside resort.

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New Jersey state Sens. Tom Kean Jr. and James Whelan introduced legislation Thursday designed to spur in Atlantic City the kind of artist-in-residency that big stars typically do in Las Vegas, where stints of two weeks or a month have become common by A-list stars.

The bill would exempt those artists from state taxes not only on their Atlantic City performance, but on shows at New Jersey venues including arenas in Camden, Trenton, Holmdel and Newark.

"Right now, world tours and widely popular entertainment aren't repeatedly coming to New Jersey's venues and consistently drawing tourists to our state," said Kean, a Republican. "There is tremendous value in the ability to consistently draw world-class entertainment here, especially considering widely successful A-Lister residencies in Las Vegas, where there's no state income tax."

"Las Vegas has had great success with performers in residence from Celine Dion to Britney Spears,' Whelan added. "I am excited about the possibility of attracting stars to the Garden State, providing our residents with the opportunity to see some great acts, all while boosting our economy."

Just who is an A-Lister — and qualifies for the tax breaks — may require a delicate touch. New Jersey's Secretary of State would set qualifications for the benefit, taking into account music and ticket sales, and awards the performer has won.

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The senators said "a transparent application process" would be administered by the director of the Division of Taxation.

New Jersey is feverishly looking for ways to boost the sagging fortunes of Atlantic City, where four of the 12 casinos shut down last year, and three of the surviving ones are bankrupt.

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Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC