Gavel to Gavel: Eye of the Beholder

The Journal Record
By Michael S. Laird
Dec. 15, 2011


I’ll admit upfront that I did pen a column back in January on the subject of Oklahoma tax credits. However, it focused on whether in principle, state government should be in the business of promoting (or discouraging) various business behaviors through tax incentives.

Thanks to the work of the Legislative Task Force for the Study of State Tax Credits and Economic Incentives over the last several months, state leadership and the public have gained a heightened awareness of the myriad of issues that must be considered in coming to any conclusions on the use and benefits of tax incentives.

Determining the intent of a tax incentive can be difficult unless language is specifically set out in the legislation. For purposes of creating new incentives or modifying existing ones, a clear depiction of lawmakers’ intent would be helpful. On the point of meeting the criteria of any stated goal, even where legislation clearly sets out goals, there are sometimes less-than-consistent approaches to how meaningful performance data is captured and analyzed.

In any case, a big question may often remain – would the business taxpayer have chosen to say, build a plant here, even if the tax incentive had not been available?

Michael S. Laird is an attorney with Crowe & Dunlevy in Oklahoma City.

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