Brewer proposals slash corporate income taxes - East Valley Tribune: Business

Brewer proposals slash corporate income taxes

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Posted: Tuesday, January 18, 2011 5:05 pm | Updated: 8:12 pm, Thu Jan 20, 2011.

Gov. Jan Brewer wants to slash corporate income taxes and let some corporations escape the levy entirely.

The proposals were unveiled Tuesday in the governor's list of priorities which she sent to lawmakers. Brewer did not give a regular State of the State address at the beginning of the legislative session last week in the wake of the shootings in Tucson.

Brewer also wants to create a statewide "enterprise zone'' that would reward businesses that locate or expand in Arizona with temporary but deep cuts in their property taxes and state income tax credits.

The changes could result in large decreases in the tax burden on businesses -- eventually.

Brewer has been reticent to cut taxes for businesses while Arizonans are paying a 1-cent surcharge on state sales taxes to balance the budget. That temporary levy expires at the end of May 2013.

But the governor wants lawmakers to enact the proposals now, with a delayed effective date, to send an early signal to businesses that are looking for places to locate or expand.

Heading the governor's list are the two changes in corporate income taxes.

Arizona corporations now pay at a rate of slightly less than 7 percent. Brewer said that makes Arizona less competitive than surrounding states in convincing companies to locate here.

She wants Arizona at the "regional average,'' a figure she pegged at just below 5 percent.

Some multi-state corporations, however, could owe nothing at all.

Current law has each company determine how much of its overall income should be attributed to -- and taxed by -- Arizona based on a formula: Half is based on the share of sales in the state, with the other half divided equally between the amount of property and the size of the payroll.

To encourage manufacturers, the state already allows corporations to choose an alternate formula based 80 percent on Arizona sales. Brewer wants to take that figure to 100 percent.

That would mean an Arizona manufacturer which sells everything it makes in other states or countries would owe nothing at all.

Proponents say anything Arizona would not get in corporate income taxes would be more than made up by the income and sales taxes paid by the workers with the new jobs as well as taxes paid by suppliers.

The enterprise zone proposal would expand an existing program now specifically aimed at companies that agree to locate in areas of the state with high poverty or unemployment. Brewer wants the entire state designated an enterprise zone.

Firms which locate there get tax credits that offset a share of each new worker's salary for up to three years. To qualify, though, the companies need to pay hourly wages at least equal to the average, which varies by county.

Companies that make a capital investment of at least $500,000 also get an 80 percent break in their property taxes for five years.

Brewer's plan does not include another priority of the business community: A change in how businesses are assessed for property tax purposes to reduce the burden.

That decision, though, is not surprising.

Anything which reduces what businesses pay results in a commensurate increase on everyone else. And Brewer told Capitol Media Services she would never accede to anything that hikes the property tax burden on homeowners.

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