June 06, 2013
June 06, 2013
The Senate approved a budget bill today that includes a grab-bag of tax breaks, even while it would reduce transparency for existing local tax incentives.Download statement
Under the bill, the public could be excluded from local government meetings covering the terms of applications for economic development assistance. These would include a variety of local property-tax breaks.
“The General Assembly should be reviewing existing tax preferences to see if they have any value, instead of creating a host of new ones for narrow special interests and cloaking local decisions in secrecy,” said Zach Schiller, research director of Policy Matters Ohio.
Among the items in the Senate bill are:
Other narrowly written special-interest provisions would allow:
The House bill had already included a new property-tax break for certain fraternal organizations, an exemption from the Commercial Activity Tax for for-profit grain handlers that has been opposed by the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, and deletion of Kasich administration proposals to eliminate a new income-tax break for gambling losses and the sales-tax exemption for magazine subscriptions. The Senate bill mirrors the House version on these measures.
The Senate, however, differed with the House in adding a tax break for business owners worth more than $600 million a year. This giant new tax exemption is unlikely to generate many new jobs (See http://www.policymattersohio.org/tax-break-apr2013 for an analysis).
“Though some provisions in both the House and Senate bills would improve the tax code, the proliferation of special-interest tax measures and reduced transparency in the current Senate version make a mockery of good tax policy,” Schiller said. “These changes should be rejected.”
Under an amendment approved by the Senate Finance Committee on June 5, the bill also would create a new motor fuel receipts tax modeled on the Commercial Activity Tax. While there are positive elements in this proposal, it does not contain any provision to ensure that it would generate the same revenue as the CAT tax on motor fuel generates now, a key flaw. If it is to be considered, that should be done as part of a broader examination of the CAT that is called for in the bill, not at this late state of the budget process.
Policy Matters Ohio is a nonprofit, nonpartisan state policy research institute with offices in Cleveland and Columbus.
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