I’m surprised no one else has posted about it.  All due to unpaid taxes so the town says and the owner is flipping his finger at the town so to speak.



Original Post

According to the article, at issue is a "pass-through" tax: i.e. the railroad is supposed to collect it in addition to the ticket price, in the same way a sales tax is implemented. The town is looking for 3 years back taxes which evidently the railroad simply failed to collect at the time of the original sale of the tickets.

I'm a bit mystified as to why the town just now noticed the railroad wasn't collecting the tax. It should have been on every ticket receipt and no one noticed for almost 4 years?

Also too, collection of that tax is the law in that town. The railroad guy quibbling with the name "amusement tax" is just silly. As if he, personally, has to pay the tax. Other businesses in town collect the tax from their patrons so why didn't/doesn't the railroad? 



Operator of the Plywood Empire Route in the Beautiful Berkshires

Growing old is so much more fun than the only alternative.

And you visited them in 1988 and 2015 with the 765.  1988 during the layover at Temple station and 2015 on the Lehigh Line to Pittston and at Jim Thorpe. I rode the gorge line about 3 times, May 15, 2009 Tunkhannock to Jim Thorpe, Sept 2010 Dutch Treat Train to White Haven, and Aug 22, 2015 765 trip from Bethlehem area to Pittston. At least the RBMN is continuing their other excursion operations. They will still have the budd car rides from Reading to Jim Thorpe, and Pottsville to JT, and steam and diesel October excursions, shorter runs from Schuylkill Haven late Sept. and Minersville in December with 113, but probably not as many excursions on the northern half of the system going forward. And tourists who drive to JT will no longer have a train to ride. They will have to go to Reading or Port Clinton to board it. Is this permanent or is there a chance they could restart the LGSRY in the future? Or simply start a new regular tourist operation elsewhere like maybe between Port Clinton and Schuylkill Haven? Andy Muller is a first class regional railroad owner and has pleased fans and tourists for years with excursions and steam, but now it is like he is giving Jim Thorpe the big finger. Would the Reading-Port Clinton area get as much business for boarding as Jim Thorpe did? But not everyone wants an all day ride, like the rdcs. The gorge trains were a good length for families. Now it’s the tourists who drive to Jim Thorpe who are going to be screwed. Jim Thorpe will lose visitors who would come to JT to ride the 16 mile gorge train but with it no longer running, they might not visit JT. Maybe a return to Temple-South Hamburg is in order, or Port Clinton to Schuylkill Haven (about 9 miles) for shorter rides every weekend. Maybe they could run more trips out of Minersville and Pottsville. JT will still be a destination for longer excursions, but no longer a boarding point for rides.

It will be interesting to see how the legal definition of "amusement" is determined in this lawsuit and what, if any written agreements come to light.  Something to consider is that the tax collecting service company promoting this lawsuit, Berkheimer Assoc. is likely to receive a percentage of the total if Berkheimer and JT Borough win.

Some other news reports provide additional details.



With the RBMN's Port Clinton and new station in Pottsville (Fairgrounds Square) and IIRC the owner of all the train track rights in the area, who's to say that RBMN will not later run its Lehigh Gorge Scenic RR and Santa Train all originating to and from the Schuylkill county stations and non-stop express around Jim Thorpe/Mauch Chunk and run along the Lehigh River northward. #justpassingthru


You can have a steam train ...If you'd just lay down your tracks.

Amusement taxes aren’t much different than the hotel and occupancy taxes that all municipalities have and travelers get socked with. Pass through taxes flat out intended to go right to the taxpayer.

Much easier to take from visitors than voters.  

Some may not agree with me; railroad may be a common carrier but in the example we have here a tourist RR most certainly seems to meet the description of an amusement versus a common carrier or government owned passenger railroad. 

The RR is right in what they claim as is the municipality. Not sure they can exempt one favored business while taxing others.

Anyway, lawyers and courts will decide the outcome.

Rob M. ARHS # 3846 PRRT&HS # 8141 EPTC "Life Is Like A Mountain Railway, With An Engineer That's Brave..."

Rich Melvin posted:

Oh, the stories I could tell about the guys who run this railroad... 

I obviously don't have the insiders perspective that you do. But from my experience as a passenger on their excursion train out of Reading behind 425 this past weekend the whole operation seemed to be very well run. In addition, everything on the railroad looked from the outside to be very well maintained. Seems like they take some pride in keeping everything well maintained. 

N&W ~ J 611

OGR Forum Member since June 2001 

TCA 00-50848

The Reading and Northern is one of the better run railroads in the US that offers an excursion program. They make their money in freight though. The excursions are more of a thank you to the communities that support them. Here’s another idea. To show Jim Thorpe who’s boss, how about the railroad build a new boarding location in Lehighton along their track and a parking area and continue to run into the gorge? Or maybe board trains at Glen Onoko and not run into JT at all, perhaps have a bus shuttle from the CNJ station to the train.

I have never had much use for politicians and I continue to stand by that. In a small town like Jim Thorpe, that my guess relies on tourism dollars to survive, why would you go after the people that bring hundreds of people to your town every weekend. Embrace them, assist in their needs don't say you owe us money.

Surely there was an employee keeping the books for the town all that time.  I can't put all the blame on the railroad, no matter how deficient its financial practices were.

The whole thing could have been averted if the town had advised the railroad that payment was due, soon after it was not received.



Superintendent, High Plains Division (O Gauge) 

The Panhandle & Santa Fe Railway Co.

Lone Star Hi-Railers

Santa Fe, All the Way

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