Microsoft, Yahoo back at the tax break trough

Last year, even with a budget surplus, public outrage nixed a tax break sought by Microsoft and Yahoo for server farms in Eastern Washington. (The WaPoWa post – and P-I column – on it is still current reading.)

This year we’ve got a hole in the state budget big enough to swallow 25% of the money needed just to maintain services like K-12 education, higher ed, prisons, child protective services, and health care for low income kids. And these technology giants have the nerve to come back and ask again – for even more money?

Last year’s request for a public handout was for half of their state sales tax  Microsoft and Yahoo would otherwise owe. This year they want an exemption from all sales tax – city, county, and state – and to include more stuff under the exemption.

The cost estimate for last year’s request was $43 million per biennium. We don’t have the estimate for this year’s bigger ask yet.

When Microsoft won a big tax break in 2004, the next week Steve Ballmer was in the news criticizing the state for not investing enough in education. Is the equation taxes=public services too complicated for him to understand?

A hearing on House Bill 2283 is scheduled for Friday in the House Finance Committee.

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