Tennessee Loses Substantial Amount of Money to Tax Abatement Programs, New Findings Reveal

 

Tennessee lost more than $159 million in revenue to tax abatement programs in 2018.

The state also lost $226 million to these programs in 2017.

This, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Good Jobs First, a nonprofit that, this past, week unveiled Tax Break Tracker. This is a new online database that compiles newly-mandated disclosures by state and local governments on how much revenue is lost to economic development tax abatement programs.

Tax Break Tracker has been completely reprogrammed to eliminate the technical issues users may have encountered with its predecessor – Subsidy Tracker 2,” said Christine Wen, Good Jobs First’s project lead, in a press release.

“Besides improving its functionality, we have added – and will be frequently adding – new content.”

Tax Break Tracker is the only publicly available database that dispenses annual totals on tax revenue lost to economic development subsidy programs, the press release went on to say.

According to the database, Tennessee officials lost more than $20 million in revenue in 2018 on tax abatements for community investment programs. The state lost nearly $3 million in tax abatements on Headquarters and Other Qualified Facilities Programs and more than $41 million on tax abatements for Industrial Machinery Programs.

That same year, Tennessee lost more than $71 million in tax abatements for job creation programs, the database went on to say.

At least $23 million of state money went to tax abatement programs in Memphis and Nashville last year, according to Good Jobs First’s website.

“Tax Break Tracker already has many entries from FY 2018, the latest available year. It joins Violation Tracker and Subsidy Tracker – Good Jobs First’s globally-popular databases – as a free, open public information resource,” according to Good Jobs’ First’s press release.

“Whereas Violation Tracker (records of corporate misconduct) and Subsidy Tracker (records of subsidy awards) are most useful for company-specific research, Tax Break Tracker is specific to places: cities, school districts, counties and states. In addition to reporting the revenue lost by those governments that actively award tax abatements, Tax Break Tracker also captures passive revenue losses, thanks to GASB 77’s coverage. For example, if a school district loses tax revenue passively because of tax breaks awarded by a city or county, under GASB 77 those losses are to be reported by the school district.”

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]

 

 

 

 

 

 

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