The secret life of Apple’s Arizona tax breaks

“Apple Inc. is poised to get millions of dollars in tax breaks and other incentives each year for its planned $2 billion, 150-worker ‘command center’ in Mesa,” Mike Sunnucks reports for The Phoenix Business Journal.

“The exact amount of those benefits, however, will remain secret because Arizona laws restrict public disclosure of corporate tax credits by the state Department of Revenue — often to the benefit of big companies such as Apple,” Sunnucks reports. “There also is new non-disclosure language specifically inserted into new bills at the Arizona Legislature that extends energy tax credits to Apple’s Mesa center.”

Sunnucks reports, “Proposals at the Arizona Legislature to extend sales and income tax breaks to the Apple center could total $28 million, according to fiscal analysis report by KJZZ-FM 91.5 in Phoenix.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Congrats to Mesa, Arizona for providing the incentives to create those new Apple Inc. jobs and the myriad benefits they’ll bring to Mesa and Arizona.

Related articles:
Arizona OKs tax break for Apple sapphire glass plant – November 20, 2013
Apple paid $6 billion in U.S. federal income taxes, 1/40th of all corporate income taxes collected by U.S. government in 2012 – January 5, 2013
Reno City Council unanimously approves 79% tax break for Apple data center – June 28, 2012
Apple confirms Reno, Nevada as the site of its next U.S. data center pending tax break deals – June 26, 2012
Travis County approves tax incentives for Apple’s Austin campus expansion – May 2, 2012
Apple gets 15-year property tax exemption for $250 million data center in Prineville, Oregon – April 20, 2012
Apple confirms plans for Prineville, Oregon data center; deal signed after state senate passed tax legislation – February 22, 2012
Apple lobbies Obama for tax holiday, wants to bring overseas bounty home – August 24, 2011
U.S Senate Democrat Schumer allies with Apple, other multinationals on repatriation tax talks – June 21, 2011
Governor signs tax break, Apple confirms it will build NC data center, investing at least $1 billion – June 3, 2009
North Carolina Senate approves tax law change for Apple Inc. in 40-8 vote – June 2, 2009
North Carolina lawmakers OK tax incentives for Apple Inc. – May 27, 2009


  1. Tax breaks should always be public information and should be subject to voter approval or denial. It is nothing less than corporate welfare.

    Apple can afford to build wherever they need to and should not be taking corporate welfare. The biggest Welfare Queens are corporations.

  2. I agree with you, but as long as politicians are running the show, I wouldn’t look for things to change. In the mean time, I cannot blame Apple for looking for the best legal deal they can get. It would be stupid not to.

    Perhaps someday things will change. Nowadays, if a physician gets a $10 sandwich for lunch from a drug salesman, it could show up on a public database. It would be nice if politicians were held to the same standard, let alone corporations.

  3. States offer tax breaks and other incentives to companies to attract businesses and jobs. States compete for companies like Apple to set up shop so they can get the jobs that Apple will create and the jobs from other companies that will play supporting roles in construction, maintenance, supply, etc. I think most of the public sees these tax incentives as a net positive.

    1. I am still trying to reconcile the inherent conflict.

      On the one hand, government is inefficient and wasteful and should stay out of the way of business. In addition, government should not be in the business of choosing winners and losers.

      On the other hand, various state and local governments are lauded for spending taxpayer money on corporate tax breaks and, thus, picking winners and losers. In this particular case, the tax breaks are kept secret even though they are funded with taxpayer money. And the unfortunate fact is that many of these tax incentive deals never pay off for the locality or the state.

      To those who dwell in this world of hypocrisy, please make up your mind whether government should stay out of business or use taxpayer money to “compete” for business.

      I have said it before, and it is worth repeating. Good businesses want stability and a reasonable tax code. Why penalize existing businesses that have been supporting the local tax base and local development for decades to offer tax cut largesse to a newcomer? If your community provides a generally stable and favorable business environment for everyone, then the businesses and jobs will be created. Artificially attempting to incentivize business growth is doomed to failure in the long run.

      1. The problem I see is that the jobs created don’t add enough to the tax base to pay for the incentives. That means the current taxpayers are chipping in through their tax payments to subsidize the endeavor. That should not be a secret from them. Secret deals with regard to taxes is un-American.

  4. Bottom line, corporations pay no taxes at all. Paid taxes are simply a cost of doing business, and all costs are passed on to the end buyer or consumer. If you raise taxes on businesses, they will increase prices to compensate.

    So offering tax breaks to create job growth and spur economic development makes sense. Unfortunately most governments don’t know how to do math so the tax breaks are usually not economically logical. In this case it’s hard to envision where a $28m tax break to create 150 jobs makes sense, other than hoping Apple likes what is going on and continues to expand.

    I would agree that there should be transparency because too often tax breaks are arbitrary and uneven (just ask WalMart who exploits these more than any other company). There needs to a fairness and opportunity for more than just the big power players here.

    1. While it is true that the costs of government – the bottom line – eventually trickles down to the citizens in the form of taxes, fees, and a growing mountain of debt, the structure of this tax collection is hardly irrelevant.

      Reductions in business taxes will eventually show up elsewhere – typically trickling down to the masses. Meanwhile, wages have been effectively stagnate for quite some time, meaning that these tax breaks lead to larger corporate profits. Since the vast majority of stock is owned by a small segment of the population, it follows that the benefits of corporate tax breaks flow primarily towards the wealthy in the form of capital gains and dividends. To make that money flow even more smoothly, tax code changes enacted in this century have been designed to specifically reduce taxation on the money earned through investment in corporations.

      This country cannot keep providing government services on borrowed money, maintain a massive defense budget, continue squeezing the dwindling middle class, and disregarding the steady increase in poverty. The end result will be massive civil unrest. History repeats itself.

  5. Let’s see. $28,000,000/150 ~ 186,000 per job. Now I understand why they want to keep it secret.

    cwayne: You should look at equilibrium curves. Taxes are split between being passed on and reducing profit. It’s a huge oversimplification that corporations don’t pay any tax for that reason. The reality is that corporations pay so little tax due to the vast array of special loopholes they bought from their legislators. And the secret deals they can cut with Arizona.

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