Policy group says Intel’s Ohio tax breaks could be better spent

File-Intel's Ohio facility
This is an artist’s rendering of Intel’s planned $20 billion chip manufacturing plant expected to be built in central Ohio.Photo courtesy of JobsOhio

By J.D. Davidson | The Center Square

An Ohio nonprofit policy research group criticized state approval of up to $650 million in tax breaks for Intel’s $20 billion project in central Ohio, saying the money could be used for schools or seniors rather than large corporations.

Policy Matters Ohio, a Cleveland-based research group, called the Ohio Tax Credit Authority’s approval earlier this week of the incentives a missed opportunity and challenged the state’s openness and accountability.

“When policymakers decide to give a wealthy corporation like Intel hundreds of millions of the public’s dollars, the public should have a clear idea of the cost and how the deal will increase prosperity and expand opportunity for everyone,” said Zach Schiller, research director at Policy Matters Ohio. “The Ohio Tax Credit Authority chose not to provide real accountability for the Intel project. Beyond the hundreds of millions it approved for Intel today, the authority effectively OK’d additional tax breaks worth hundreds of millions of dollars – but how much more, we don’t know.”

Five tax breaks were approved for the initial intel project

The groups said legislation approved during the summer in the state’s capital budget contained five tax breaks for the project, including the sales tax and Commercial Activity Tax and property-tax exemptions for some suppliers.

OPM said there was no specific cost estimate for the breaks.

“The size and scope of the Intel deal approved by Ohio’s lawmakers are unprecedented for the state,” Schiller said. “We should expect to know the financial costs and tap the public so policymakers can ensure Ohio makes the most of this huge outlay.”

As previously reported by The Center Square, the groundbreaking on the new facility earlier this month was celebrated by President Joe Biden, state and local officials with representatives of Intel.

State leaders have said the planned project, which is expected to be finished in 2025, will create 3,000 long-term jobs that will pay an average of $135,000 annually and 7,000 construction jobs.

How the CHIPS Act helped Ohio’s Intel project

Aside from state and local government incentives, Intel is expected to benefit from the recently passed federal CHIPS Act that opened $52 billion to companies producing semiconductor chips and another $10 billion to create regional technology hubs across the country. 

Schiller said government help for companies like Intel could be better used, despite proposed benefits from the project.

“Tax breaks for giant corporations like Intel come at the expense of revenue that could fund essential programs like public schools, care for seniors or children living in foster care. That’s why it’s so important that policymakers ensure that Ohioans know the cost of their decisions, and in this case, they haven’t done so,” Schiller said. “As beneficial as the Intel project could be to Ohio, it should come with safeguards – that the bulk of the jobs will go to Ohioans, that any of the aid can be clawed back if promises aren’t met, and that the community has input on its substantial impacts. The General Assembly and the Tax Credit Authority have failed to provide those safeguards, so the project lacks the accountability it should have.”

An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher.

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