Tax Incentives

A coalition in Oregon and the Democratic governor of Washington want to juice sales of electric cars by providing more state incentives.

Officials with cheesemaker Glanbia Foods have announced an $82 million expansion of manufacturing plants in south-central Idaho.

The company in a statement on Thursday says the expansion at its headquarters in Twin Falls and a plant in Gooding will add up to 50 new jobs.

The company says the expansion will help meet demand for whey — a byproduct from cheese-making.

SkyWest, airplane, airport
Aero Icarus / Flickr Creative Commons

SkyWest Airlines has chosen Boise for the site of its new $20 million maintenance facility, a project state leaders tout was made possible by a newly-created tax incentive program.

In June, Boise Mayor David Bieter announced SkyWest would open a maintenance facility at the Boise Airport, using an existing hangar at the Jackson Jet Center. He said then that SkyWest was considering expanding that facility in Boise.

Butch Otter
State of Idaho

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter is backing legislation aimed at creating jobs and bringing business to Idaho.

Otter on Thursday signed the bill into law that refunds up to 30 percent of state corporate income taxes, payroll taxes and sales taxes to businesses that create a certain number of new jobs.

The measure mandates workers must be paid wages that at least match the county average.

The bill hit some speed bumps during the session, drawing the ire of small business owners who said the tax breaks give an unfair edge to their larger competitors.

Idaho Capitol Dome
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

An Idaho tax incentive bill is again bound for the governor's desk after sponsors say they've addressed concerns from the attorney general's office.

The bill, which would give up to 30 percent in tax incentives to job-creating businesses, already passed the Senate Monday.

But Senate leaders called for a revote after the attorney general's office released an opinion saying it could leave Idaho on constitutionally shaky ground.

Idaho Capitol Senate
Emilie Ritter Saunders / StateImpact Idaho

Legislators say they'll change a tax bill before trying it again on the Senate floor, after the attorney general's office said it might leave Idaho on constitutionally shaky ground.

The bill, which would give up to 30 percent in tax incentives to job-creating businesses, cleared the Senate 29-6 Monday.

But that was before Deputy Attorney General Chelsea Kidney released an opinion that giving a seven-member board the final word on who gets tax breaks could result in unequal treatment of identical businesses.

Idaho's lackluster quiver of tax incentives make it flyover country for many companies looking to relocate or expand.

That's the verdict of Department of Commerce Director Jeff Sayer, who pitched a plan Friday he says would change that.

Sayer's proposition: What if Idaho allows companies that hire new, well-paid employees to recoup up to 30 percent of their income, sales and payroll taxes after they've proven to have met their expansion promises?

That way, he says, the state would protect itself from companies that don't follow through.

The issue of tax transparency in Washington is getting fresh attention on the heels of a major tax deal for Boeing.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / StateImpact Idaho

The Idaho Legislature will go home today having approved nearly $20.7 million in tax cuts. That’s a fraction, less than one percent, of the state’s general fund budget.

Girl Scout Cookies
Emilie Ritter Saunders / StateImpact

A sales tax exemption for Girl Scout cookies sold in Idaho will advance to the upper chamber after lawmakers in the House approved the measure 59-11.

Idaho and Hawaii are the only two states that tax the sale of Girl Scout cookies. In Idaho, 22 cents from every box sold goes to the state. That amounts to about $140,000 in revenue each year.

Pew Center on the States

A recent report from Pew Center on the States lists Idaho among 26 states ‘trailing behind when it comes to evaluating tax incentives.  That is, having a mechanism in place to take a closer look at the state-specific incentives and exemptions on a regular basis, and to evaluate if they’re doing what they were intended to do.  In most cases, that’s spurring economic growth and

401K / Flickr

StateImpact Idaho has rolled out a series of stories this week on tax incentive transparency in Idaho.  That is, what is and isn’t public information when it comes to business tax credits and exemptions. 

Almost always, tax incentives are created in the name of economic development.  But in Idaho, little information is available about whether these incentives create jobs and grow companies. 

Scott Graf talks with StateImpact reporter Emilie Ritter Saunders about the lack of transparency surrounding Idaho's business tax incentives. 

Greg LeRoy is the executive director of Good Jobs First. / Good Jobs First

Good Jobs First is a non-partisan, non-profit government transparency advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.  It was founded in 1998 by Greg LeRoy, who is now executive director. LeRoy has been studying tax incentive transparency for more than two decades.  We recently spoke with him to learn more about what he considers ‘transparent enough,’ and what states are doing to open incentive information to the public. 

Q: What is transparent enough? What should people have the right to see?

Emilie Ritter Saunders / StateImpact Idaho

The state of Idaho will give up an estimated $845 million this year in the form of tax credits and exemptions.  And only a select few at the Idaho Tax Commission know exactly where that money goes.

Pew Center on the States

A new 55-page report from The Pew Center on the States shows most states don’t really know if business tax incentives are boosting job growth.

smcgee / Flickr

Free samples of beer and wine are now tax-free.  So are parts for some airplanes that are worked on in Idaho.

Lawmakers expanded and added new tax exemptions during the 2012 session, adding to a growing list (exemptions start on page 41).

Lets start with the new.  Continue reading....