Attorney General's Opinion
Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal
July 1, 1993
Gloria Schaffer, Commissioner
Department of Consumer Protection
165 Capitol Avenue
Hartford, CT 06106
Allan A. Crystal, Commissioner
Department of Revenue Services
92 Farmington Avenue
Hartford, CT 06105
Dear Commissioners Schaffer and Crystal:
You have requested our opinion on two issues raised by Conn. Gen. Stat. § 21a-199 which imposes an athletic tax of five percent of the gross receipts from any boxing exhibition. The first issue is whether the Commissioner of Consumer Protection is responsible for the collection of the tax or whether it is the responsibility of the Commissioner of Revenue Services. The second issue is whether the athletic tax can be waived for United States Amateur Boxing, Inc., due to the fact that it is a non-profit association that is otherwise tax-exempt.
Our answer to the first issue is that it is the responsibility of the Commissioner of Consumer Protection to collect the tax and pay it over to the state treasury. The plain language of the statute states that the report of the boxing exhibition and the tax should be remitted to the commissioner of consumer protection. 1985 Conn. Pub. Acts 157 substituted "commissioner of consumer protection" for [State Boxing] "commissioner" to reflect the abolition of the state boxing commission. The tax and the responsibility for collecting it have rested with the agency charged with the regulation of boxing since at least 1925 (General Statutes of Conn. 1925 Rev. C. 243, § 6).
It is a cardinal rule of statutory interpretation that where the language of a statute is plain and unambiguous, the enactment speaks for itself and there is no occasion to construe it. Its unequivocal meaning is not subject to modification by way of construction. In the absence of special circumstances, the words of a statute are to be accorded their common meaning. Torrington Water Company v. Board of Tax Review, 168 Conn. 319, 322-23 (1975). If the legislature had intended to make the Commissioner of Revenue Services responsible for collection of the tax it would have said so.
In this regard we note that 1985 Conn. Pub. Acts 293 extended the provisions of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 21a-199 to any club, corporation or association which promotes a boxing exhibition or wrestling match. At the time, then Commissioner of Consumer Protection, Mary Heslin, advocated before the General Law Committee that it be made clear that the tax be collected by the commissioner of revenue services. However, no language to effect such a change was ever introduced into the bill. Gen. Law Comm. Proc., pt. 1, 1985 Sess. 367-371, 461-462.
Our answer to the second issue is that the athletic tax may not be waived for United States Amateur Boxing, Inc.
The tax imposed by Conn. Gen. Stat. § 21a-199 has remained substantially unchanged since at least 1925 (Conn. Gen. Stat. 1925 Rev. c. 243, § 6). Conn. Gen. Stat. 1945 Rev. § 546h added the provision that the five percent tax applied to the gross receipts after federal taxes have been deducted.1
The plain wording of the Connecticut statute creates no exemptions to the imposition of the tax for non-profit organizations and at no time has such an exemption been granted by the General Assembly. It is a cardinal rule of statutory interpretation that where the language is plain and unambiguous, the enactment speaks for itself and there is no occasion to construe it. Torrington Water Co. v. Board of Tax Review, 168 Conn. 319, 322-23 (1975). Furthermore, deductions and exemptions from otherwise taxable income are a matter of legislative grace. Yaeger v. Dubno, 188 Conn. 206, 212 (1982).
In the absence of an express exemption from the tax, the only conclusion that can be reached is that United States Amateur Boxing, Inc. is not exempt from payment of this tax.
Very truly yours,
Paul M. Scimonelli
Assistant Attorney General
1 The federal taxes referred to are those imposed by the Federal Admissions Tax I.R.C. e 4231 et seq. Although I.R.C. e 4233 provided certain exemptions from the tax for some non-profit organizations, paragraph (C)(ii) thereof specifically provided that such exemptions were not applicable to wrestling matches, prize fights, or boxing, sparring, or other pugilistic matches or exhibitions. Section 101.15 of the Regulations made it clear that such events are not exempt from the tax irrespective of the status of the participants, the character of the organization sponsoring the event, or to whom the admission proceeds are payable. The Federal Admissions Tax is no longer in force.