A recent headline in a daily paper announced: “eBay Takes Third State Incentive.” The article lauded a $27.3 million tax credit that created 50 jobs paying on average more than $50,000 annually. By my math, $2.5 million a year in salaries times the length of the tax credit (10 years) equals $25 million dollars, only $2.3 million dollars short of what the state is giving away to eBay! And that’s just the first of their three incentives.
Why is it that the state of Utah always dangles these multimillion-dollar credits to foreign corporations and mega businesses at a cost to all of us yet does nothing for local or small businesses?
For example, over the past decade, I have created out of nothing an antiquarian book business in downtown Salt Lake City that has grown from employing just my daughter and me—and virtually no sales— to an established book business, employing five full-time and two part-time employees. And I have grown this business and paid all my taxes and fees with virtually no assistance from any local or state government.
Admittedly my payroll is only 10 percent of the payroll figures eBay used to obtain its $27.3 million dollars worth of tax incentives from the state, but where is my proportionate share? If eBay gets $27.3 million over 10 years, then where is my $270,000 a year? Why is it that time and time again, local and state taxing entities and government bend over backward to give away our tax money to these behemoth businesses that give less back in return than they obtain? These are our tax dollars. Why does the state do nothing for the thousands of small businesses like mine to help us succeed, yet continuously give away enormous sums of money to those that don’t need it and profit by it?
It is the thousands of small unique businesses, restaurants and shops that provide vibrancy and liveliness to our cities and towns throughout the state of Utah. Why is it that the state seeks only to reward those that have the most and give back the least?
Buy local, sell local and keep the dollars in the hands of the individuals and within our own communities and borders. Oh, and send my belated check for $2.7 million to my downtown bookshop.
Salt Lake City
P.S.: I would also note that in regard to eBay, at least, the $33 million of tax subsidies being provided are being funneled to a retail competitor of mine while hundreds—if not thousands—of other small Utah retailers like myself are receiving no such consideration or subsidy from local and state government.
Furthermore, eBay, as an online retailer selling hundreds of millions (if not billions) of dollars in retail merchandise, is doing so without charging or remitting any local or state sales taxes, nor are the vast majority of eBay sellers paying any kind of sales or capital gains taxes on what surely must be a multibillion-dollar sales venue by now. My question would be: Why?