OK Tax Measures Need More Transparency, Analysts Say (News 9)

By Alex Cameron

The Oklahoma Tax Commission’s most recent report is out detailing all the tax exemptions, deductions and credits that are given out each year to businesses, individuals, organizations and causes.

The report holds 90 pages of tax breaks, everything from the ‘dry fire hydrant credit’ to a sales tax exemption for equipment purchases by manufacturers of low-point beer.

It’s difficult to quantify the exact cost of it all to state taxpayers, but it’s been estimated at about five and a half billion dollars annually. The state’s total budget is seven billion.

One problem, analysts say, is that these measures just automatically renew each year, without anyone really looking to see if they’re worth the cost.

“We really need to have greater transparency so we have goals attached to these, make sure that they’re tied to real investment to job creation, economic activity that would not be occurring without the incentive,” said David Blatt with OK Policy Institute.

One tax break that is getting quite a bit of discussion lately is the one for horizontal drilling. Many want to keep it the way it is, to encourage oil and gas companies to keep those good jobs here, while others say the state is just giving away 250 million dollars a year to incentivize a procedure that is now standard in the industry.


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