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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tax breaks aren't forever

The business community is ramping up its defense of tax breaks in advance of today's Statehouse putting Fidelity and Evergreen Solar in the hot seat.

It's entirely appropriate for the Senate Post Audit and Oversight Committee to conduct some oversight into what happened to the transfer of tax dollars from our pockets to those of a company that apparently took that money and eventually ran.

But a little mirror gazing is also on order since the Legislature, in its not-so-infinite wisdom, chose to make the "single sales tax apportionment" permanent -- but the requirement to create new jobs good for only five years.

The bottom line remains however, that corporations are far better at tax avoidance than tax payment, as General Electric amply proves by managing to get $4.2 billion extra out of our pockets while failing to pay a dime on $5.1 billion in profit on U.S. operations in 2010.

And when corporations fail to behave as responsible citizens, the choices are stark: raise taxes or slash services. Congressional Republicans clearly believe in rewarding bad behavior are are trying to take a meat ax to programs while funneling millions to the company to build a $5.3 billion "spare" engine for a fighter jet.

That's why it is important for Massachusetts lawmakers to revisit their own not-so-handy work on corporate tax breaks. Our businesses do deserve incentives at appropriate times for appropriate amounts when they create jobs.

They do not deserve being allowed to permanently stick their hands in our pockets after they no longer deliver on their promises, forcing us to shell out extra from the other pocket to keep teachers in classrooms and cops on the street.

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