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County to create new tax break policy

Thursday, September 17, 2009 by Austin Monitor

On Tuesday, the Travis County Commissioners Court set a deadline of December 31 to have a new draft tax abatement policy completed.


The policy sets guidelines for companies seeking tax breaks for moving to Travis County. The county’s old tax abatement policy expired last year. However, the commissioners may decide next week to reinstate it until the new one is adopted.


The new policy, as currently written, differs from the old one mainly in the size of employer it aims to attract. The old policy set a minimum of $100 million in capital investment and the creation of 500 jobs in order for a company to be eligible for a tax break. The new draft lowers the threshold to $25 million and 50 jobs. “At the time (that the old policy was written), we wanted to pull down really large employers, like Samsung,” says Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt. “The economic climate has changed somewhat and some of the targeted industries we’re looking at are not those big industries. …We’re willing to entertain smaller corporations, such as green-collar companies.”


The new draft also ups the maximum tax break from 80 to 85 percent. However, Eckhardt says, “None of this is an entitlement.” While the policy provides a framework, the commissioners decide tax abatement proposals on a case-by-case basis.

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