While Your Investments Were Shrinking . . . .You Helped Wal-Mart

Blog Post
April 23, 2009By Chuck Sheketoff

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While Oregon families have seen their Oregon 529 plans turn into 0.529 plans, their 401K plans turn into 0.401K plans, their homes’ values shrink, and interest rates on their savings accounts and CDs drop to next to nothing, taxpayers in the State of Oregon have been helping Wal-Mart make a nice return on its money.

Here’s how it happened. According to data released by the Oregon Department of Energy, three companies – Klondike Wind Power III LLC, Fort James Operating Company-Georgia Pacific, and SolarWorld – made investments that qualified for $33,432,361 in Business Energy Tax Credits (BETCs). The three companies apparently pay little or nothing beyond Oregon’s $10 minimum corporate income tax, because instead of taking the tax credits they sold them to Wal-Mart for $22,513,334. The companies took $22 million from Wal-Mart for their $33 million in tax credits.

In return for its $22 million, Wal-Mart will receive from the State of Oregon $33 million in tax credits over five years.

Even though Wal-Mart itself hasn’t saved a single BTU or generated a renewable BTU in the deal, when the State finalized the deal the State thanked Wal-Mart for its "efforts saving energy and participating in the tax credit program."

So Wal-Mart is getting from Oregon taxpayers a guaranteed 49 percent return on investment courtesy of the State of Oregon at a time when public services enjoyed by the typical Oregonian are threatened with 30 percent cuts because the state doesn't have adequate tax revenues.

Maybe it’s time for the Legislature to re-think the transfer of BETC tax credits.

This post was originally published on www.blueoregon.com on August 23, 2009. The original post can be found at http://www.blueoregon.com/2009/04/while-your-investments-were-shrinking-/.