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Crossing State Lines
One of the more interesting bones of contention on yesterday's Measure 67 show was whether or not it's possible to compare overall corporate tax burdens across state lines. Economist Joe Cortright argues that it is. But Brent DeHart of Salem Aviation Fueling says that when states have completely differerent revenue structures, you end up comparing apples to oranges.
This isn't just an academic disagreement. Proponents of the corporate tax increase often say that even if Measure 67 passes, Oregon businesses would still owe less in taxes than in almost any other state in the country — a fact that only makes sense if state-by-state comparisons are possible.
We talked to Cortright about all of this after the show, and he explained that in fact it's slightly more complicated. He says that while it's possible to compare overall corporate tax burdens from state to state, comparing tax burdens of different industries is extremely difficult. (This study (pdf) from Washington's Department of Revenue neatly encapuslates his point.)
In other words, Washington might be tax-friendlier to software developers than Oregon is, but Oregon might collect less in taxes from an electrical equipment manufacturer than its neighbor to the north.