Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tax Credit Task Force Issues Recommendations

From The House Media Division ~ Members of the Task Force on State Tax Credits and Economic Incentives today discussed how to rein in ineffective and impractical tax credits.
The recommendations of the task force will be used to draft legislation setting up safeguards in how the Legislature creates tax credits.

“We are not against business. We don’t oppose growth,” said Rep. David Dank, R-Oklahoma City, who chairs the task force. “We believe that government policy can help create jobs. We don’t think all credits or incentives are bad. What I think most of us believe after all we have heard here is that far too many tax credits and other incentives enacted in the past were created for the wrong reasons and in the wrong way.”

Dank said many of the current tax credits and incentives on the books were voted on “virtually in secret” and do not have adequate checks and balances.

“And as we know from reading the attorney general’s opinion, a number of them were and are constitutionally infirm, which is really another way of saying they were simply illegal,” Dank said. “The simple truth is that a few of these tax credits are like the huckster who took a bucket of manure, covered the top with an inch of honey and sold the whole thing as a full bucket of honey. It wasn’t until the sucker got home with it that he found out what he had actually bought.”

Recommendations proposed during the meeting included:

  • extensively reviewing tax credits,
  • ending the transferability of tax credits,
  • sunsetting all tax credits,
  • eliminating the practice of voting on tax incentives in the last days of session,
  • making all credits and incentives subject to the Oklahoma Open Records Act,
  • making job creation the only acceptable justification of a tax credit,
  • examining alternative job creation solutions before turning to a tax incentive,
  • annually auditing every tax credit,
  • requiring caps and limits on all tax credits,
  • scrutinizing entities receiving tax credits and incentives.

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