Two new reports released this week by watchdog groups in Oregon show mixed results for accountability of the state’s economic development subsidies.
OSPIRG released Revealing Tax Subsidies 2014, an update to its previous evaluation of how well the state is complying with its three year old transparency law. While the state has improved its disclosure since OSPIRG’s last assessment, especially for large controversial programs, the group found that the state is still failing to report key information for 14 of the 19 subsidies covered by the law. In particular, many of these under-disclosed programs are missing information about the economic outcomes (e.g. jobs, wages, or investment) ostensibly generated by these subsidies.
Lacking such information, it is impossible to know whether the colossal corporate tax subsidies documented this week by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy and Citizens for Tax Justice are actually doing the state any good. The Oregon Center for Public Policy announced yesterday that at least 24 (and probably many more) of the state’s most profitable corporations included in that report have paid no state income tax in recent years. Oregon has a minimum corporate tax, but companies are able to dodge their tax responsibility with economic development subsidy tax credits.