| October 17, 2012

Go for growth

Last week Chris Edwards and the Cato Institute released the “Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors 2012.” The report highlights governors and the policies they are implementing in their respective states. As the report shows, governors across the nation are providing pro-growth opportunities. Some governors are at polar opposites on policies. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, who cut spending and led Kansas’ effort to pass its largest tax cut in state history, received an “A." Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, who led the effort to increase personal income taxes for Illinoisans by 66 percent and expanded his efforts to pick winners and losers, received an “F."

Often pro-growth policies must be enacted by lawmakers, but citizens at times have an opportunity to choose pro-growth policies. Oklahoma voters will be presented with such an opportunity as they consider State Question 766 (SQ766). This measure would exempt all intangible personal property -- e.g. patents, inventions, formulas, designs, trade secrets, licenses, franchise, contracts, land leases, mineral interests, insurance policies, custom computer software, trademarks, trade names and brand names -- from property taxes.

In consideration of SQ766, it should not surprise citizens that yet again the left plays the “envy” trump card by trying to get citizens to focus only on large businesses who would be exempt from intangible property taxes. Inciting envy and covetousness is their chief tactic. In fact, citizens should know that pro-growth opportunity is just around the corner every time the “envy” card is played. The experience of other states reveals that once “Pandora’s box” of taxing intangible property is open, eventual government bureaucrats are picking winners and losers and are valuing and assessing taxes on things like a reputable name of a small family business, an interest in a public pension, “sweat equity” in a business also known as goodwill, interest in lease payments and a host of other intangibles left up to the imagination of assessing bureaucrats. To downplay this reality, the left and some tax users with insatiable appetites advocate for the status quo, where arbitrarily the businesses that are the targets of envy pay intangible property tax. Also as expected, there are conflicting predictions about the potential for loss of revenues.

Rest assured, as Oklahoma has shown, pro-growth policies lead to desired progress. Another pro-growth opportunity faces Oklahomans in the form of SQ766. The envy inciting chatter from the left and tax users is nothing new and citizens should expect it. Ultimately, SQ766 is pretty cut and dried. A “Yes” vote ensures that all intangible property is exempt from property tax. A “No” vote subjects all intangible property to the prospect of property tax.

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