Minnesota venues band together to push for tax relief before legislative session ends

They're being held liable for thousands of dollars in taxes on federal COVID-19 aid

People wait outside First Avenue in Minneapolis during a light snow
A light snow falls on music fans waiting to enter First Avenue for The Current's 17th Anniversary Party early this year. First Avenue is one of the founding members of the Minnesota Independent Venue Alliance leading the charge for state support of venues.
Darin Kamnetz for MPR

Minnesota venues have begun to reopen in full swing, thanks in part to $165 million dollars of federal support distributed last year to 204 venues through the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant. It was a part of a $16 billion dollar program to help venues throughout the country get back on their feet after pandemic closures.

Now, venues in the state are being held liable for thousands of dollars in taxes on the money they received — despite federal stipulations saying otherwise. Minnesota is the only state that has not conformed to these guidelines.

“This was not something we planned for,” said Shayna Melgaard, President of the Minnesota Independent Venue Alliance.

The group has been pushing for a legislative fix, currently included in an omnibus bill that still needs approval before the session ends Monday.

Melgaard told Tom Crann Tuesday that the situation has placed an additional strain on venues that are already struggling to recover from pandemic losses.

“We have members from Minnesota who have said the first quarter of this year was their worst quarter in history,” she said.

Use the audio player above to hear the full conversation.

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