Google, Facebook Tax Breaks Challenged

Dec 4, 2014

State assistance to attract Google, Microsoft, and Facebook to Iowa is under scrutiny by a statehouse committee.

The panel is looking at tax incentives the state hands out to attract industry, including the big datacenters which are making more than three billion dollars in capital investments in the state.  

Budget watchdogs say confidentiality concerns are keeping them from finding out whether state income tax credits are more generous than they need to be.

The data centers have received over 70 million dollars in direct assistance from the state,  but they also get state tax credits to reimburse them for sales taxes paid on construction and other startup costs.  

“We need a better handle on the money being spent and the jobs being created,” says Iowa City Democrat Joe Bolkcom.

Officials  with the Department of Revenue say the companies’ tax records are confidential .   Lawmakers may sponsor legislation to get around that.  

 “Taxpayers have a right to know the exact cost,” Bolkcom says.    

The committee is evaluating a wide range of state tax credits, what Bolkcom calls a fast-growing part of state spending.  He says tax credits overall have doubled in the past four years.