Thursday, May 25, 2017

Column: the facts on oil & gas taxation

This column is from Alberto Soto, a Republican small businessman from Tahlequah:

“If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts.”
― Albert Einstein

"The people" want more money for education, for health care, for social services but they want someone else to pay for those increases. How did we as a country get to the point where it is okay to pass the burden of our wants onto others like the oil industry, business, corporations and rich people? How is this fair? How is this not just evil greed on the part of those who want it all but wish to pay for none of it?

How can I say this when the rich keep getting richer and as liberal democrats like Mr. Inman (who is running for governor) insist that it is the rich who are getting rich off the backs of the poor and middle class.
Scott Inman:

File this in the "You Can't Make This Up" category.
To date, House and Senate Republicans have refused to raise the GPT on oil and gas companies or restore the income tax cuts for the wealthiest of our citizens . . . We will not sit by quietly as the folks in charge shift the tax burden from their wealthy contributors through income tax cuts, gross production tax cuts, and corporate tax credits on to the backs of middle-class families.
or as Nick Singer says, from a post that Scott reposted on his personal page says,
Nick Singer, “Creating a low tax rate and/or grace period and/or new and not existing wells is a give away to people who don't need, on a highly profitable, finite and very volatile resource that Oklahoman's need to make hay with while they have it.”
So the rich don’t “need” to make more money because hey they have reached their limit. We the liberal elites in this state have determined that enough is enough. We need more of your money. Sorry, it’s actually not “your” money rich oil industry but it is our money because by keeping the taxes low on you we are giving it away.

The arrogance of how they talk about the oil industry and the rich is appalling.

When I read all the back and forth from our liberal democratic friends I am left thinking that these (mostly men) men are just not being honest or are grossly ignorant of the amount of taxes the “rich” are paying in this state, specifically the oil industry and how business operate and make a profit. It is my guess that most of these men have never carried a payroll or have ever run a business in their life. They go straight from law school to politics as in the case with Mr. Inman.

“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” “Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are pliable.” “For every fact there is an infinity of hypotheses. ”
John Adams

Oil and Gas companies are the only business that pays this creative tax called the gross production tax or GPT. On top of this tax they pay income taxes, payroll taxes, unemployment taxes, state and local taxes. The truth is that the oil industry pays about 22% of total taxes in this state. The truth is, it is the backs of the oil industry that we are building this state on. Without the oil industry Oklahoma would not be the same state. It is the one industry that has the highest taxes imposed on it. Their tax rate is 4 times greater than the average business.

Even local democrats like Representative Matt Meredith have taken up this game
“This morning the Republican party went against, not only the people of Oklahoma, but the Constitution of Oklahoma, and passed a gross production bill that would bring in one time money and not raise the gross production to 5% or 7%. They played games, did a slide of hand and let the BIG OIL companies once again control the Capitol…

We will continue the fight for our kids, teachers, elderly, health care professionals and every family within not only District 4, but also in Oklahoma. We all deserve BETTER!!!”
Matt, buddy, the oil industry is just doing what anyone should do in their place- stop the abuse and over taxing nature of government in its tracks. Big government liberals will never have enough money. It is easy to pick on “big” business and those “greedy” rich guys because most of us are not those guys.

But the people of Oklahoma have shown time and time again that they are too smart for this. There are now only 26 Democrats in the house and 6 in the senate left and if they continue on this pattern of dishonesty that will be reduced some more.

The GPT is 2% on new wells for only 3 years after which it goes up to 7%. Liberals want to increase that to 7%. and then speak like the oil industry is abusing the elderly for wanting to keep it where it is at.

“The sum of all the taxes the oil and natural gas industry pays makes it the largest direct revenue source for Oklahoma’s budget. When other Oklahoma industries pay $1 in taxes per employee, the oil and natural gas industry pays $4 in taxes per employee.”


“In fact, the gross production tax is only 1/5th of the total $2.55 billion in taxes the oil and natural gas industry paid to the state in FY’15. Unlike our neighboring oil producing state, Texas, the oil and natural gas industry also pays corporate and personal income taxes, which outpaced gross production tax collections in FY’15. “

The truth is Matt that the oil industry pays 22% of all taxes in this state. Instead of demonizing our neighbors, friends, and job creators we should be treating them like we want to be treated and thanking them for how much they support this state. Instead of accusing them of greed, bribery and “shenanigans” let’s be honest with District 4 and point out these facts. If you still think they don’t pay enough in taxes then make an honest case. Tell the voters why you think that $2.55 billion is not enough for you and your democratic friends when our entire state budget is about $6.9 billion.

Do you believe Matt that the oil industry should pay half of the state budget? How much is enough? What is a “fair share”? Do you really believe that higher taxes on this industry is moral and just?

Is it really smart for our state budget to be so dependent on one industry like this? I would say no way. That is short sighted, greedy and foolish.

It it time for politicians to stop acting like politicians and start treating their fellow citizens with more respect and level with us and tell us the truth.

Alberto Soto is a small business owner from Tahlequah, and writes on Facebook at Reasonable Right.


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