With states currently facing an unprecedented combined total of $350 billion in operating deficits, ticket brokers can expect governments to look for ways to tax physical and/or online ticket sales as a way to help generate revenues, speakers at a panel on tax law told an audience during Ticket Summit Friday in Las Vegas.

Whether brokers can stop such efforts or not remains to be seen, but speakers urged them to try by talking to their local, state or federal legislators because politicians are too often misinformed about the secondary ticket market and the potential damage additional taxes could do.

“Pressure is growing more and more for governments to do something because states are hurting,” said Dustin Brighton, senior manager of government relations for eBay.

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Or, as Braden Cox, policy counsel at ecommerce advocacy group NetChoice, put it, “The Internet tax man is after you and everyone else.”

Brighton said that North Carolina is looking into a law, SB 99, that would impose an 3 percent tax on online ticket sales to drive new revenues for the state, a bold move that will likely meet with heavy resistance.

“They [North Carolina state legislators] know what they’re doing is questionable, but they’d rather pass something that could put pressure on the U.S. Congress to help them,” Brighton said.

On a separate note, the proposed merger between Ticketmaster and Live Nation could end up being challenged by the U.S. Department of Justice because the vertical and horizontal business elements of deal could give the two companies too much control.

“Restructuring the deal probably wouldn’t work in this case, because for example, Live Nation’s ticketing operation wouldn’t be as valuable in the hands of another company,” said attorney James Hurwitz, a contributing analyst for the American Antitrust Institute.

Photos from Ticket Summit 2009 Vegas – Friday
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Panelist speak on the legal panel at Ticket Summit Vegas on Friday.

Aaron Song, Presale Password (left); Kyle McPeck, Ticketcrush (center)

Harris Rosner of VIP Tickets (left) and Leor Zahavi of Admit One (right)

left to right from Ticket Frontier:
Marisa Zunino; Eli Barntsen; Kaya Barnsten

Harvey Levine and Marcia Cooper of ClickTixHub

Ryan Andrew of TicketNetwork gives a POS Demo to Tim Macdonnell of Elite Sports Tours