Guest Editorial: Oklahoma’s silent scandal: Tax credit abuse

IDABEL, Okla. — Before you or I ever vote for another tax hike in support of education in Oklahoma, we should demand that something first be done about the ridiculous tax credit abuse that’s going on in Oklahoma – involving some of the most prominent names in Oklahoma and with the blessing of the state Legislature.

It’s very similar to the sleazy arrangements between Washington and Wall Street, but it’s Oklahoma’s silent scandal – and silent in part because of our major media’s involvement in the game.

Now it has reached literally hundreds of millions of dollars being sucked from state coffers, even as senior citizens go without meals and our children’s education needs suffer.

The newest example of abuse – supported by both parties in the Legislature – is a simple version of what can be a very complex tax credit game.

Electric cars. Sounds nice. But last week I talked with a company president who may buy several of them, maybe even a whole fleet if it’s legal. Why? Not because he really cares anything about the cars but because he can reduce his state taxes $9.95 for every dollar he spends AND can cut his federal taxes by $8.95 for every dollar he spends on an electric vehicle.

That’s nearly $19 off his taxes for every dollar “invested” in buying electric cars.  He’s paying lots of taxes, so why not? If the government sets up this ridiculous stuff, why shouldn’t people take advantage of it?

Financially, it’s in their interest to do so.

The problem is, we are bleeding our schools and children, potentially starving some of our senior citizens, and ensuring our roads will never be decent, all so that mostly wealthy people and companies can reduce their tax liability.

I don’t blame the ones making use of legal loopholes (as long as they really are used legally), but those who have created the loopholes (theyare in both parties), the Oklahoma Tax Commission for keeping “investors’” names secret, and the organizations who don’t try to plug the loopholes, but at the same time are quite willing to raise taxes on everyone else to fill the financial vacuum.

Among the latter is the Oklahoma Education Association. Are they so frightened by the wealthy and powerful people involved in this that they would really rather raise taxes on everyone else – or cut spending for other needs – to help education funding?

If so, it’s very sad for our state and its people. The service OEA could provide in addressing this abuse would serve all public employees and the taxpayers – as well as teachers and schoolchildren.

If OEA could simply help turn on the lights statewide, the rats would quickly run for cover.

There are many elected offices coming up next year. It’s your chance to make your voice heard with those wanting your vote. This will only become a priority if the people make it one.

Personally, I plan to raise it with every state office seeker who comes into my office.

If you can stand the increase in blood pressure, you might do some reading on Some names there may anger and surprise you. There you will find Oklahoma’s version of the cronyism and abuse that as occurred on Wall Street and in D.C.

Remember the late Leona Helmsley, the billionaire hotel operator and real estate investor? Her housekeeper famously testified that she once heard her billionaire boss say, “We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.”

Take a look at Nick Baker’s web site and you may see why her statement doesn’t just apply to arrogant jerks in New York.

Forget the electric cars. If you pay taxes as I do, it may be time to break out the torches and go after the monster.