Another Clever Tax Break Scheme

The Phoenix Business Journal’s Mike Sunnucks reported a few days ago on the latest news regarding a tax break for developers that is in the news after some absence.

It’s called “Government Property Lease Excise Tax,” or “GPLET,” for short. This is how it works:

Such breaks entail local governments owning and then leasing public land to private developers and companies. The move allows those developments to pay lower property taxes than if the land were privately held. They have been used extensively in the past in downtown Phoenix and Tempe and other parts of the Valley.

You might be somewhat surprised that the somewhat selective Goldwater Institute opposes this, given the taxpayer-funded subsidies they’ve ignored in Scottsdale and other municipalities controlled by their friends (JP Twist, son of Goldwater founder Steve Twist, is chief of staff to Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane). According to Goldwater (as quoted in the PBJ):

Critics of the tax breaks say they give certain developers and projects unfair advantages and push construction, jobs and traffic to certain areas of the region.

We can achieve economic development without sweetheart deals,” said Byron Schlomach, an economist for the Goldwater Institute watchdog group. “It’s just not an even playing field.”

The Goldwater group has previously estimated GPLETs cut development tax burdens by as much as $30 million annually.

I certainly don’t disagree with Goldwater’s opposition to the GPLET tax dodge. I just wish they’d be consistent in pushing for the “even playing field.”

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