The Seattle Times editorial “Extend data center tax breaks” [Opinion, May 19) expresses support for tax breaks to Microsoft and Boeing. It implies that wage earners, not shareholders, should pay the costs of government.
As you point out, our Legislature and governor granted Boeing an $8.7 billion tax break for fear Boeing would abandon its factories and skilled labor here to build new facilities and train a new workforce elsewhere. After our government agreed that we taxpayers should subsidize Boeing, the company said it would build its new airplanes here, but then announced its moving many of its engineers. Meanwhile, at the federal level, Boeing pays no income tax and, last year, received a $2 billion tax refund.
Back to Microsoft. The Times writes about “the synergy of hundreds of firms and thousands of talented workers,” but Microsoft discounts that synergy. What’s important, it says, is taxes, an area where Washington is “uncompetitive.” At other times, Microsoft complains that Washington does not provide a labor pool that is trained enough for its needs. Yet it calls the requirement that the company contribute to the cost of that training, “uncompetitive.” Instead of paying taxes here in Washington, Microsoft asks the federal government for visas so they can hire foreign workers.
You urge lawmakers to “take a pragmatic view,” which you define as giving tax breaks to big business. Are tax breaks really pragmatic? It’s hard to know. What we do know about tax breaks is that they’re shortsighted.
Charles Davis, Seattle