Emilie Ritter Saunders reports: The effectiveness of tax credits and incentives is something StateImpact Idaho has been looking at since we launched back in September.  We wanted to better understand how the state views tax incentives and what the return is on that (sometimes risky) investment.

But in Idaho, there is very little public information available when it comes to tax credits.  That makes it tough to measure if a particular credit is doing what it was intended to do.

First, here is some important background reading.

Tax credits, incentives and exemptions might not be the sexiest subject, but its estimated the state of Idaho will lose about $845 million* in revenue in 2012 through the various incentives and exemptions that are on the books.

We really don’t know what that $845 million is getting the state because all of those incentives and exemptions aren’t public information.  That raises questions about how open Idaho is.  So we want to know, what is transparent enough?  Should the public have the right to see exactly where these incentives are going and who is benefiting?  We’ll be exploring these questions all week. Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

*$845 million is the sum of all tax credits, specific use exemptions and specific goods not taxed over a twelve month period.  Some of these are measured by the state using the calendar year, others by fiscal year.  This calculation doesn’t include services or specific entities not taxed. 

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