corporate taxes

Oregon Politicians on Their Knees to Nike

David Delk brings us this cogent summary of the latest example of the difference between Democrats and Republicans. As Ralph Nader says, it is "the velocities with which their knees hit the floor when corporations knock on their door."  The Oregon Center for Public Policy documented that the tax break Nike wants to be continued--on a guaranteed basis--reduces its Oregon state corporate income taxes by 95%.  Because the Oregon Constitution requires taxation to be uniform, this guaranteed tax break would have to apply to all corporations, at least to any corporation making a $150 million investment in Oregon property over the next 5 years.  Under the proposed bill, the contractually-guaranteed tax break would last from 5 to 40 years.

The Oregonian front page story on Tuesday was about the special session of the Oregon legislature called by the governor for passage of special protection of Nike from changes in the certain aspects of the Oregontax code for the next five years.  Local activist Michael Munk dubbed it the Nike Corporate Welfare Law (read his blog statement here).  The Oregonian article noted that there were critics of the move but only quoted the Oregon Center of Public Policy in a single paragraph.  So much for fair and balanced reporting. 

Oregon Center for Public Policy later issued their own response in an email titled:  A Highly Dubious Assumption in the Governors Proposed Nike Deal.  It is available on line here.   Nike appears to be afraid that because the Oregon legislature might rework some tax policy, their special tax adjustment worked out with the Oregon legislature a decade or so ago in which only the in-state sales would be used as the basis for calculating the income tax owed to the state of Oregon might be changed. They say they want "certainty."  Previously, the rate was based on value of company property in Oregon, total number of employees and total company sales around the world.  With the passage of the Single-Sales Factor, Nike and other companies doing most of their business out-of-state (Intel, Precision Castparts, Boeing, Columbia Sportwear, for instance) received a very, very, very big tax break and we were left with decreasing tax revenues to pay for teachers, senior services, parks and other state services.  Nike is part of that chorus of business that likes to remind us of the importance of having a educated population that they can hire even as they do their best to lower the taxes they pay.

And note that we don't know how much taxes Nike paid before receiving the generous tax break or how much they pay now.  All such information is private and not to be disclosed of us or legislators.

The draft legislation to be considered is available here

Please contact your state Representative and Senator and demand that they vote no on this.  And further, that they change the law to require disclosure of corporate tax reports. Find your representative and senator here.

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