Article by Dale Denwalt for The Oklahoman
The tax burden felt by business is lower in Oklahoma than anywhere else in the nation, according to a broad study of tax collections.
Analysts at the Anderson Economic Group have determined that, in 2015, just 6.3 percent of business profits went toward Oklahoma’s state and local taxes. It is the second year in a row that Oklahoma had the lowest tax burden, said senior consultant Jason Horwitz.
Instead of looking at one kind of taxes that businesses pay, like the corporate income tax, the report tallies 12 of them.
“I think that, a lot of times, different publications will choose to show the business tax burden based on their sometimes justified — but usually subjective — assessment about which types of taxes are better,” Horwitz said. “They might only base it on the overall rate and ignore the actual tax base, or they will weight certain taxes more than others or only include certain taxes.”
The Anderson Economic Group study shows the greatest percentage of profits going to the government leaves in the form of general sales and use taxes — about 1.5 percent.
Slightly less profits go to property tax, which is collected exclusively for local governments.
“I do notice that probably the main reason Oklahoma is No. 1 is because the property tax burden on businesses is relatively low,” Horwitz said. “Nationwide, something like half of all business taxes are actually property taxes. So if you have relatively low property taxes, that can be relatively valuable for businesses in the state.”
Even though Oklahoma scored better than any other state, some taxes ranked lower on the scale. For example, Oklahoma’s severance tax eats more into profits than 45 other states. Three dozen states have less of a license fee burden.
Jonathan Buxton, senior vice president at the Oklahoma State Chamber, said he’s not surprised about the news.
“Historically, Oklahoma has been a low-tax state and we have seen the benefit of business expansion as a result of those policies,” Buxton said.
The goal of tax policy, he said, should be to encourage investment and growth.
“Our low tax burden has yielded great results for both business and corporate collections, and individual collections,” Buxton said.