Too many questions surround tax rebate to Utah Data Center

Considering how frequently our legislators shake their fist at the federal government, it is ironic that they’re seriously considering acting like toadies for the feds.

I’m referring, of course, to SB45, a bill that would waive the taxes due on electric bills (called MIDA energy taxes) for various federal installations in Utah, but principally for the NSA’s controversial Utah Data Center. The Utah Data Center’s annual MIDA taxes alone are estimated to be close to $6 million. As one can imagine, the bill has raised multiple questions; answers to those questions are not forthcoming.

  1. Why is Utah playing Santa Claus for the federal spy agency? Allegedly, then-Gov. Huntsman promised the feds that the Data Center’s electric rates would not increase for the first six years if the NSA constructed the Data Center in Utah.

  1. What did the NSA promise Utah in exchange for this great deal on the purchase of huge amounts of electricity? Well, no one really knows, because there is absolutely no written documentation to support this alleged deal.

  1. Did the NSA promise a minimum number of jobs in exchange for cheap power? We don’t know.

  1. Did the NSA honor whatever commitments it might have made? Again, no one seems to know.

  1. Why is Utah even considering waiving $6 million in annual taxes based on such vague and flimsy information? See the above answer.

Two other things to consider: First, this tax waiver isn’t the same thing that Gov. Huntsman allegedly promised (which was no increase in electric rates); and second, this tax waiver isn’t limited to six years, it’s forever. Since the NSA budget is classified, for all we know this won’t even crimp the NSA.

How do you think you’d fare if you approached the Utah Tax Commission for even a $20 reduction in your taxes based on this kind of documentation?

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