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Tax 'incentives': Keep saying no

December 03. 2012 6:05PM

New Hampshire does not have a robust "tax incentives" program, and that has turned out quite well for New Hampshire taxpayers. As The New York Times has been chronicling recently, such "incentives" programs let businesses pocket $250 billion a year in taxpayer money.

Governments at every level offer companies tax breaks (often for decades) in exchange for opening (or sometimes just announcing the opening of) new facilities. Sometimes the jobs come; sometimes they don't. When they do, they are not guaranteed to stay. Many companies take the incentives, then leave after a few years for greener pastures, or they close. Taxpayers often are left paying tens of millions of dollars for jobs that either never materialized or that disappeared before the so-called "investments" could be recouped.

Wisely, New Hampshire elected officials have preferred the better policy of keeping everyone's taxes low (though we do have some limited state and local incentives). That could change, though. Gov.-elect Maggie Hassan campaigned on pursuing job growth by offering targeted tax breaks and state services. Our economy would be much better served by reducing business taxes for everyone. Tailoring tax breaks and state services to achieve specific policy goals corrupts the system and is less effective than offering everyone the same low rate.

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