Sustained Outrage

Should W.Va. give ‘cracker’ plant a big tax break?

My buddy Ry Rivard over at the Daily Mail broke an interesting story today, reporting:

West Virginia officials are considering a new tax incentive to help lure a massive petrochemical facility to the state.

Under the plan, which must be approved by the Legislature, the owner of a facility known as an ethane cracker could save about half a billion dollars in personal property taxes over the next 25 years, Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette said in an interview last week.

The incentive would help counteract West Virginia’s personal property tax, which the business community has long complained deters investment in the state.

Later in the day, the good folks at the West Virginia Center for Budget and Policy posted a pretty strong take-down of this idea, explaining that West Virginia property taxes might already be cheaper than Ohio for one of these “cracker” plants that Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is chasing so hard:

… Since West Virginia taxes business personal property and other states don’t, we need to create expensive tax incentives because of that built in disadvantage, right? Well, it turns out that the disadvantage created by business personal property tax is easily cancelled out once you remember that West Virginia has incredibly low real property tax rates.

Using some average tax rates and an average breakdown of real and personal property for businesses statewide, the Center came up with this handy chart: