Tax abatements to lure industries are the subject of this week’s editorial in the Barrow Journal. Some counties do those the right way, but Barrow’s latest deal raises some serious questions.
The AJC also had an article Friday on that issue:
Jobs carry a high price tag
By Richard Halicks
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
4:19 a.m. Friday, August 5, 2011
Researchers at the University of North Carolina discovered a disturbing trend last year regarding businesses that accept state incentives and tax breaks in return for creating jobs.
Four in 10 of those companies did not create jobs. They actually cut them.
Georgia has spent more than a half-billion dollars in the past 10 years on similar tax breaks and incentives, and you’re probably wondering how our programs performed.
Keep on wondering.
The state Revenue Department receives corporate tax records each year, but the taxpayers of Georgia – who bear the budgetary burden from fewer tax collections – do not have the right to review those reports. So you often can’t find out whether a company has lived up to its promises.
Without question, companies receiving incentives have created thousands of jobs in Georgia. But it’s unclear whether the loans and grants are necessary.
“Obviously, we don’t know whether these programs are effective or not,” said Sarah Beth Gehl, deputy director of the nonpartisan Georgia Budget and Policy Institute. “There are valid purposes for certain incentives. But with any program we need to have transparency and accountability to make sure we’re getting our money’s worth.”
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