Washington companies got $500 million in tax breaks, and that’s just the ones we know about | KUOW News and Information

Washington companies got $500 million in tax breaks, and that’s just the ones we know about

May 5, 2016

Boeing’s mega-tax breaks have focused public attention on the state legislature’s decisions to forgo tax revenues.

The legislature offers more than 600 different types of tax breaks to businesses in the state.

In Washington, 1,900 companies receive tax breaks and are required to report how much they saved. They collectively saved $550 million.

An additional 600 companies receive tax breaks, but do not have to report how much they save. They do have to at least acknowledge that they received a tax break.

We know about the savings amount for most of the companies because of a law passed in 2013 which forced companies receiving any new tax incentive to declare the full extent of their tax breaks. That filing was due this week and the full results will come later in the year.

Boeing was the first big company to receive a new tax incentive after the 2013 law was created. That was the multi-year tax incentive package to help the state win the 777x production line and keep thousands of jobs in the state.

So Boeing is the first high-profile company to publicly disclose its tax savings. This week, as reported in The Seattle Times, the company said it saved $217 million in state taxes in 2014 and an additional $305 million in 2015.

More information about some of the companies that do not have to report their savings could be coming soon. According to the 2013 law, whenever an older tax incentive is changed the new reporting requirements apply.

The same law requires the state to specify the reason for the tax break and provide ways to measure whether the incentive served its public purpose.

The tax breaks cross industries from agriculture to technology. Microsoft for example received $163 million in tax breaks in 2014. Amazon received $35 million in tax breaks that year. 

The University of Washington, which holds the license for KUOW, received $86 million in tax breaks in 2014. Newspaper publishers also receive state tax breaks. 

The full list of tax breaks received by Washington companies in 2014 is available at the Department of Revenue.