The Pennsylvania House of Representatives has passed a measure (HB 2188) to suspend 13 different taxA tax is a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities. credits for two years, thereby reducing the state’s deficit by $48 million. According to the associated fiscal note, the tax credits suspended would be:
- Property and Casualty Insurance Guarantee Association Credit
- Research and Development Tax CreditA tax credit is a provision that reduces a taxpayer’s final tax bill, dollar-for-dollar. A tax credit differs from deductions and exemptions, which reduce taxable income, rather than the taxpayer’s tax bill directly.
- Resource Enhancement and Protection Tax Credit
- Historic Preservation Incentive Tax Credit
- Community-Based Services Tax Credit
- Job Creation Tax Credit
- Mobile Telecommunications Broadband Investment Tax Credit
- Innovate in PA Tax Credit
- Neighborhood Assistance Tax Credit
- Keystone Special Development Zone Tax Credit
- Keystone Innovation Zone Tax Credit
- KOZ, KOEZ and KOIZ tax credits
- Promoting Employment Across PA.
Most of these credits amount to narrow carve-outs for favored industries and firms, and thus their elimination would generally be good tax policy as a way to make the tax code more neutral. Furthermore, Pennsylvania has recently been considering a few good adjustments for the tax code that would partially relieve the increased tax burden once these credits are suspended. HB 2400, HB 2401, and HB 2402 would raise the depreciationDepreciation is a measurement of the “useful life” of a business asset, such as machinery or a factory, to determine the multiyear period over which the cost of that asset can be deducted from taxable income. Instead of allowing businesses to deduct the cost of investments immediately (i.e., full expensing), depreciation requires deductions to be taken over time, reducing their value and discouraging investment. deduction cap for S CorporationAn S corporation is a business entity which elects to pass business income and losses through to its shareholders. The shareholders are then responsible for paying individual income taxes on this income. Unlike subchapter C corporations, an S corporation (S corp) is not subject to the corporate income tax (CIT). s, permit small businesses to use the net operating losses deduction, and conform Pennsylvania to federal standards allowing a business to swap like assets without paying taxes. No fiscal note has been provided to determine how large a revenue impact these provisions may have.
If Pennsylvania both suspends (or, better yet, eliminates) many of these distortionary tax credits and adopts the positive changes in HB 2400, HB 2401, and HB 2402, it would be a meaningful improvement in Pennsylvania’s business tax climate (the Keystone State currently ranks 24th in our State Business Tax Climate Index).
However, aside from these incremental changes in tax credits and deductions, there is a bigger problem in Pennsylvania’s tax climate: its second-highest-in-the-nation state corporate income taxA corporate income tax (CIT) is levied by federal and state governments on business profits. Many companies are not subject to the CIT because they are taxed as pass-through businesses, with income reportable under the individual income tax. . At 9.99 percent, Pennsylvania’s burdensome corporate rate makes it uniquely profitable for firms to pursue special credits and carve-outs. With at least some of those credits suspended, more Pennsylvania firms will foot the full freight of the corporate tax rate. In fact, shortfalls like the one Pennsylvania is currently experiencing are particularly likely in states highly dependent on corporate taxes, the most volatile of all major taxes. By relying more on taxes with broader bases and lower rates, Pennsylvania could meet its financial needs with less volatile revenue streams, and enjoy the benefits of a more pro-growth tax climate.
Read more on Pennsylvania here.
Read more on tax credits and deductions here.
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