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IN THE NEWS: Taxes: Don't just give out the money
May 26, 2010

BUDGET TIME ON BEACON HILL | BOSTON GLOBE EDITORIAL

Taxes: Don’t just give out the money

When the state House of Representatives passed a budget bill recently, one bright spot was a measure requiring public agencies that administer certain tax breaks to disclose which companies receive how much money. Massachusetts rightly keeps individual tax returns confidential. But some tax credits, such as the ones for historic rehabilitation, film production, life sciences research, and many other activities, function like state subsidies for specific projects. The benefits to an individual company can run into millions of dollars.

As the Senate takes up budget amendments, it should one-up the House — by adding the requirement that agencies report on the effects of such breaks, including on how many jobs each tax break creates. On Friday, a group of senators led by Revenue Committee Chairman Benjamin Downing introduced an amendment to that effect; it echoes past proposals from Governor Patrick. Opponents fear that such disclosure may deter some companies from taking advantage of the tax credits, which are meant to promote economic development. But the tax credits are only worth preserving if they work as promised, and the public has a right to know if not. 



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