DRS: Declaratory Ruling No. 1988-1, Admissions Tax

 
 
Declaratory Ruling No. 1988-1
 
 
Admissions Tax
 
 

February 19, 1988

Timothy D. King, Esq.
Eisenberg, Anderson,
   Michalik & Lynch
126 West Main Street
Post Office Box 2950
New Britain, Connecticut 06050-2950

Dear Mr. King:

You have filed a petition for a declaratory ruling pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. §4-176 and Conn. Agencies Regs. §12-2-4a questioning whether an admission charge to a miniature golf course is a "daily admission charge [entitling] the patron to participate in a an athletic or sporting activity"; Conn. Gen. Stat. §12-541(2); and stating your position that such an admission charge is a charge entitling a patron to participate in an athletic or sporting activity. From your certification of service, it appears that you have served a copy of the petition on all persons whom you have reason to believe may not otherwise have knowledge thereof and may fairly be said to have an interest therein.

The exemption from admissions tax for admission charges entitling patrons to participate in an athletic or sporting activity was added by 1971 Conn. Pub. Acts No. 7, §3 (Spec. Sess.). The admissions tax had been enacted during the 1971 regular session; 1971 Conn. Pub. Acts 837 (Reg. Sess.).

In the absence of such an exemption, charges to play a round of golf at a golf course at which one was not a member would have been subject to the admissions tax. This would have been the case because a golf course is a place of amusement, entertainment or recreation, as the term is defined in section 12-540(3). (Charges to play golf at a golf course at which one was a member would have been and remain subject to the dues tax, but not to both the admissions tax and the dues tax. See section 12-556.)

At least one legislator was surprised that the admissions tax applied to charges made to play at municipal golf courses, to play tennis, or to play at driving ranges. While he claimed that the General Assembly did not intend these results, the provisions of 1971 Conn. Pub. Acts No. 837 (Reg. Sess.) are sufficiently clear and unambiguous to contradict this claim. In any event, he wished to correct what he believed to be an erroneous interpretation of Pub. Act No. 837 by the Tax Department. See 14 S.R. Proc., Pt. 8, June, 1971 Sess., p. 373. [Remarks of Sen. Strada on S.B. No. 2005] (Needless to say, the Department no longer interprets the admissions tax as applying to charges made to play at municipal golf courses, to play tennis, or to play at driving ranges.)

The Department’s interpretation of section 12-541(2), is guided by the commonly approved usage of the language; section 1-1. An admission charge which entitles the patron to participate in miniature golf cannot be considered, according to the commonly approved usage of the language, as an admission charge for participation in an "athletic or sporting activity." At most, miniature golf is a form of entertainment and amusement. Nor is the legislative history supportive of the treatment of miniature golf as an athletic or sporting activity.

Statutory exemptions are strictly construed against those claiming entitlement thereto. See, e.g., New England Yacht Sales, Inc. v. Commissioner, 198 Conn. 624, 637 (1986) and cases cited therein. Viewed accordingly, section 12-541(2) cannot be said to pertain to miniature golf.

In conclusion, the declaratory ruling which is made in response to your letter of January 13, 1988 is as follows:

An admission charge to a miniature golf course is not "a daily admission charge [entitling] the patron to participate in an athletic or sporting activity; Conn. Gen. Stat. §12-541(2).

This letter constitutes notice of the issuance of a declaratory ruling.

You are hereby directed to serve a copy of this declaratory ruling on those persons which your letter of January 13, 1988 identifies as having an interest in the subject matter and to file forthwith proof of service with my office.

Sincerely,

 

Timothy F. Bannon
Commissioner