Answering the wrong questions. The Iowa Chamber Alliance asked a consulting firm that makes money playing the corporate location incentives game whether Iowa should sweeten its corporate location incentives. Guess how they answered it.
From an Iowa Chamber Alliance press release:
“Iowa has a solid base of state – level economic development incentives tools upon which to build. However, to become more competitive, Iowa may wish to increase the funding level and flexibility of some of the State’s key incentive programs” states Darin Buelow, a Principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP.
It’s hard to imagine the study coming to a different conclusion considering what they were looking for:
At the request of the Iowa Chamber Alliance (ICA), Deloitte Consulting (Deloitte) benchmarked incentives programs in Iowa and in five alternate states, focusing on a high-level analysis of state-level incentive programs, their value, and overall effectiveness in attracting investors.
In other words, they were to look at whether Iowa has more and better giveaways than its neighbors.
I looked for the study in vain for any analysis of the value of Iowa’s tax credits to the economy vs. alternative uses for the funds — like lowering the tax rates of the rest of us who pay for them. There is no mention of “opportunity cost.” In looking at the “value” of the programs, it makes unsupported conclusions like this one about the “High Quality Jobs Program:”
Considered effective and competitive in providing benefits to mitigate corporate income tax, refunding sales tax for construction and providing a supplemental refundable research credit.
Considered effective by whom? On what basis? It doesn’t say.
The study says Iowa should enrich its data center corporate welfare — where the rest of us subsidize the infrastructure of Microsoft and Apple. They also recomment Iowa “consider allowing sale, refund or transfer” of tax credits.
A few years ago, after the film tax credit disaster, Governor Culver tasked a panel with reviewing the effectiveness of Iowa’s dozens of tax credits. Their report failed to come up with a clear benefit for any of Iowa’s tax credits. The panel also had this to say about transferable tax credits: (my emphasis)
Transferability of tax credits complicates the projection of revenues and the tracking of credits, creates uncertainty about when credits will be claimed because the purchasing entity may utilize a different fiscal year than the entity awarded the credit, and siphons resources from awarded entities through brokerage fees… Once tax credits are transferred, it creates limited recourse for the State to recover funds claimed in instances where the business awarded the original credit does not fulfill the contracted obligations or if the credit was awarded in error. Additionally, transferability has also resulted in abuses in some tax credit programs.
It would be better Iowa to not “compete” in taxing its current taxpayers to lure and subsidize their competitors. Instead Iowa should enact a tax system good enough that we don’t have to pay people to be our friends. The Quick and Dirty Iowa Tax Reform Plan would be better for Iowa businesses than any number of pocket-picking tax credits.
Poor legal move. From Bloomberglaw.com:
Former Kirkland & Ellis LP senior partner Theodore Freedman pleaded guilty to fraud in connection with the filing of false tax forms.
Freedman changed his plea yesterday from not guilty to guilty of four counts of tax fraud. U.S. District Judge Deborah Batts in Manhattan accepted the plea and set sentencing for Sept. 17. Freedman’s lawyers reached a plea agreement with U.S. attorneys.
Indicted in July 2011, Freedman misrepresented his income as a partner at the law firm by about $2 million, the U.S. said. He also claimed more than $500,000 in expenses for a sole proprietorship that didn’t exist, the government said.
It’s hard to imagine how he thought this would work. K-1s get matched against tax returns, at least occasionally. The IRS matching system is cumbersome and inefficient, but it works well enough that you can’t habitually ignore K-1s with six-figure income. Furthermore, claiming big bogus Schedule C losses like that is practically an engraved invitation for the IRS to visit your return.
Related: Former Kirkland & Ellis Partner Pleads to Tax Crimes (Jack Townsend)
The Colonel knows why your business might have to file returns in other states. My new post at IowaBiz.com, The Des Moines Business Record blog for entrepreneurs.
William McBride, The Carried Interest Debate: Funding Government for 3.1 Hours (Tax Policy Blog).
Patrick Temple-West, Cadbury gets tax bill in India, and more (Tax Break).
Daniel Shaviro, Skepticism about “fundamental tax reform”
Angie Picardo, Grads – Filing for First the Time (Missouri Tax Guy guest-post)
William Perez, Child Tax Credit for 2012
There’s a new Cavalcade of Risk up at Health Business Blog. It’s always worth the ride at the blog world’s roundup of insurance and risk management!
Is that an argument for or against intelligent design? The Sequester: ‘Designed to be Stupid’ (Cara Griffith, Tax.com).
Because they aren’t in a position to speak for themselves: Ellen DeGeneres Speaks Out For Spanish-American War Widowers (Peter Reilly).
The Critical Question: Why Is Amy Poehler Going To Hell? And What Does Taylor Swift Have To Do With It? (TaxGrrrl)
Programming note: This site was pretty much shut down part of yesterday afternoon. Our valiant hosting service says it was a comment spam attack on the pre-2012 archived posts. Sorry about that.