Symphony Loses Tax Dispute

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled May 5 that the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra’s concerts are entertainment events and thus subject to the state’s 5 percent sales tax.

The decision upholds an earlier ruling by the Tax Appeals Commission and ends a dispute that’s reportedly been going on for more than 10 years.

The court rejected the orchestra’s argument that the more than 100 concerts it performs each year are primarily educational and charitable events and not subject to taxation. Orchestra officials were reportedly seeking a refund of about $720,000 from the Department of Revenue for taxes paid on concert admissions between 1992 and 1996.

The court ruled those concerts were promoted and marketed primarily as entertainment and should be taxed.

MSO spokeswoman Susan Loris said although officials are disappointed, they respect the court’s efforts in the matter.

Loris also said the decision won’t affect ticket prices as the orchestra has been paying the sales tax with general operating funds.