Oregon's special Nike deal sets a precedent for Washington state

By Jody Wiser of Portland, Oregon. Jody is an advocate for progressive tax policy at Tax Fairness Oregon.

Like Oregon, Washington State has a fantastic requirement - that tax expenditures get evaluated periodically so we know they are performing well.

So much for that.

Washington’s special Citizen Commission has barely started their review of 11 tax breaks for the aeronautics industry, due out in 2014.

Evidently Boeing doesn’t like it. Boeing needs a Nike-type deal, so Governor Inslee has called the Legislature into special session, and is proposing that all 11 be extended until 2040, plus more benefits be added on top.

It is more than happenstance that Boeing needs an emergency decision?

The Citizen Commission for Performance Measurement of Tax Preferences (Washington: RCW 43.136) is stronger than Oregon’s Tax Credit Review Committee in that while Oregon law looks only at tax credits, Washington law looks at nearly all "tax preferences,” defined as an exemption, exclusion, or deduction from the base of a state tax; a credit against a state tax, a deferral of a state tax, or a preferential state tax rate.

But what’s in the law and what big business wants seems to have parted ways in Washington state.

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