Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ Tax Credits: The Oregon Example

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Aug 29, 2009

Originally posted on Half an Hour, August 29, 2009.

Responding to David Campbell, who writes:

> They issued $386 million in tax credits in three years. Adjusted for population, that would be like New Brunswick issuing $100 million in tax credits - to one industry.

It’s very misleading to represent the tax credit in per capita terms.

What would it be adjusted for tax base? What would it be adjusted for taxes the industry would otherwise pay? What would it be adjusted for taxes plus health insurance premiums? What would it be adjusted for varying levels of federal taxation and industrial support?

The American tax system is very different from the Canadian system. Simply running a per capita comparison obscures that distinction.

Moreover, focusing on the tax advantage given to the sector in Oregon also misleads with respect to important other distinctions between Oregon and New Brunswick. Oregon, especially, has been the locus for numerous quality-of-life reforms over the years.

Look at the first paragraph of their business plan: “Oregon is a special place to live, and Oregon’s quality of life helps attract and retain talented people who drive our economy. Access to the outdoors and recreation, arts and culture and safe communities are among many Oregon assets that can support economic prosperity.”

No amount of tax breaks in the world can make up for a poor quality of life; that’s why nobody relocates to Somalia.

Oregon’s business plan incorporates ‘Four Ps’: people, place, productivity and pioneering. It is very important to focus on all four, rather than to write as though tax credits were the missing link or the magical tool that Oregon is using.

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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