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    Entries in Taxes (4)

    Thursday
    Nov032016

    A Sneak Peek at the Seismic Shift in Corporate Tax Breaks

    New rules are forcing states and localities to calculate how much revenue they’re losing to business deals -- and whether they pay off. It’s something Washington state has been doing for a decade.
    BY  NOVEMBER 2016

    Earlier this year, Washington state lawmakers got a wake-up call. A tax incentive package they’d approved in 2013 for aerospace giant Boeing -- largely regarded as the most expensive incentive deal in history -- was actually on pace to surpass its estimated $8.7 billion cost. According to a Department of Revenue report, the deal, which extends to 2040, had already amounted to half a billion dollars in giveaways in just the first two years alone. In other words, the state was losing out on a whole lot more money than it had planned.

    And the kicker? Just months earlier, Boeing had announced plans to cut roughly 4,000 jobs in Washington. The year before, the company had transferred thousands more jobs out of the state.

    Some lawmakers were livid, openly contemplating whether the state should consider revoking the tax breaks if the company didn’t add back some jobs. (Boeing, for its part, says it has continued to invest in the state, including $1 billion last year for a plant to build its new 777x aircraft.) But on the whole, response from officials and local media was measured. Most lawmakers said that in the bigger picture, the company was still good for Washington.

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    Friday
    Oct142016

    Big-Box Stores Battle Local Governments Over Property Taxes

    The retailers are deploying a ‘dark store’ strategy that’s hurting cities and counties around the country

    BY  SEPTEMBER 2016

    On Michigan’s sparsely populated Upper Peninsula, big-box stores are a modern necessity. Where towns are spaced far apart and winters are long, one-stop shopping to load up on supplies adds a crucial convenience to what can be -- at least for many -- a rugged existence.

    Landing one large retailer is a coup. Having more than one can make a city or town a regional shopping destination. Marquette Township, a small community adjacent to the larger city of Marquette, is in the unique position of having a handful of big-box chain stores. Taking advantage of the fact that the city of Marquette was mostly built out, the township began encouraging large-scale commercial development on its western edge early in the 2000s.

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    Sunday
    Oct092016

    Is Kurt Summers the Future of Chicago Politics?

    The city’s young treasurer has turned a moribund office into a hive of activity, fueling speculation that he has higher aspirations.
    BY  JULY 2016

    On a cool late-spring evening in the Wild 100s of Chicago, an area on the far South Side known for its gang wars, Kurt Summers Jr. is addressing a small crowd gathered inside a once-gleaming 1920s retail building. There used to be a beauty school here; later the building housed a counseling service and a check cashing store. But even those businesses are gone. This community, built by middle- and working-class Dutch families 15 miles from downtown, never recovered from the closing of the South Chicago steel plants in the 1970s and 1980s. Today, it’s a symbol of violent crime and urban decay.

    But to Summers, who grew up on the South Side, violence is only a symptom of the community’s real dilemma. “We don’t have a violence problem in Chicago, we have an economic problem in Chicago,” he tells the crowd of about two dozen residents, who applaud in agreement.

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    Monday
    Jan042016

    The Curious Case of Disappearing Corporate Taxes

    Over the past two decades, corporations have doubled their profits but contributed increasingly less to state revenues. Where is all the money going?
    BY  JANUARY 2016

    When Rick Snyder became governor of Michigan in 2011, his state had been on a 10-year economic slide -- businesses were leaving and so were people. Where the rest of the country saw growth in the first two-thirds of the 2000s, Michigan’s fiscal health was slip-sliding away.

    Reversing a slide is difficult, and Michigan’s governor and legislators focused a good chunk of their turnaround efforts on taxes. They wanted to reform the tax code so that it would lure businesses and generate the revenue needed to underwrite the kind of quality services that make people want to live there. Snyder’s first step was to ask the legislature to slash business taxes. Within months, lawmakers repealed the unpopular and complicated Michigan Business Tax -- though businesses could opt to stay with parts of the old system and its arcane web of credits and rebates. That isn’t all the legislation did. The new tax law created a flat 6 percent tax that only certain types of corporations paid on their income. Talk about simplification: Nearly 100,000 businesses no longer had to file corporate returns.

    Michigan has made economic progress since the 2011 tax reforms were passed. The population has stabilized, and the state ranks fifth in the country in job creation. Earlier this year, Michigan’s bond rating was upgraded, an affirmation of a more stable fiscal environment.

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