Friday, December 7, 2012

TTARA Takes Times to Task

Austin, TX ( December 06, 2012
The Texas Taxpayers and Research Association responded today to a recent series on tax incentives published in the New York Times.  The Times contends that Texas gives out a whopping $19 billion annually in tax incentives—more than any other state.

“The Times’ contends that Texas is unique in offering certain incentives, which, in fact are basic tax exemptions common across the states,” TTARA’s President, Dale Craymer said.  “They selectively count the costs for Texas but ignore them for other states.  Their conclusions are misleading and simply wrong.”

For example, over half of the value of “incentives” the Times attributes to Texas is the sales tax exemption for raw materials consumed in manufacturing.   Virtually all other states offer the same exemption as a way to prevent tax pyramiding.  The Times, however, excludes those values from their ranking for California, Illinois, Florida, New York, and a myriad of other states.  This results in the erroneous conclusion that Texas somehow offers more incentives than other states.

“The key difference between Texas and these other states,” Craymer commented, “is that Texas is transparent in our tax policy and provides publicly available estimates.  Many other states do not, so the Times ignored them in its calculations.”

“Further, many of these exemptions are designed to prevent economic distortions associated with taxing a business’s productive costs.  To count these very common and basic exemptions as tax incentives is the same as arguing that Texas’ sales tax exemption for groceries creates an incentive to eat.”

A more recent, academically honest, report on state tax incentives and business tax costs, Location Matters, was prepared by the Tax Foundation.  Surprisingly, Texas scores much lower on incentives than what the Times suggests. 

“Taxes aside, there are many reasons for businesses to locate in Texas—efficient regulation, rational tort laws, policy stability, etc.,” Craymer said. 

“What you simply won’t find is a $19 billion bonanza of handouts.”

The Texas Taxpayers and Research Association (TTARA) is a non-profit, non-partisan membership-supported organization of businesses and individuals interested in state and local fiscal policies in Texas and the way those policies impact our economy. TTARA members operate in every part of Texas; they employ and provide incomes to thousands of Texans; they produce or provide every type of good or service Texans consume; and, they provide a huge portion of the revenue that supports public services at every level of government. TTARA has been recognized as the state’s leading organization specializing in tax and fiscal policy for more than 50 years.



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