Tax breaks: The secret budget

An ongoing series that investigates Maine state government’s multi-million dollar business breaks — and whether they do what they’re intended to do.

Recent Stories

Tax law allows billions in business property taxes to be diverted from paying for local services and schools


Put an addition on your house, and the town assessor will come around, increase the value of your house and your property taxes will go up. Get a TIF, and you, too, have to pay taxes on that new warehouse or factory – but the taxes don’t help pay for the schools, plowing and cops. Continue Reading →

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Criticism of tax breaks growing in legislature

AUGUSTA – Over the past 50 years, Maine legislatures and governors have added millions of dollars in tax breaks for businesses without ever doing the detailed analysis to find out which are effective and which are wasteful.

But now that may be changing. Continue Reading →

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States have subsidized makers of assault rifles to tune of $19 million

Assault rifle from Smith and Wesson online catalog

Taxpayers across the country are subsidizing the manufacturers of assault rifles used in multiple mass killings, including the massacre of 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. last month. Continue Reading →

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King cites his $900m tax break program as a job creator

Angus King, photo Terry Karkos, Sun Journal

The number one issue on voters’ minds this year is jobs. Angus King, the leading candidate in the U. S. Senate race, claims as governor he helped create jobs in Maine with some of his policies, including a program called BETR. BETR stands for Business Equipment Tax Reimbursement. Until King became governor, businesses had to pay property taxes on equipment they purchased, from paper-making machines to computers. In 1995, then-Gov. King persuaded the legislature that if the state gave the taxes back to the businesses, businesses would expand and create jobs for Mainers. Continue Reading →

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Tax break deals studied … and studied, but questions remain unresolved

Report Cover

Editor’s note: This is the second part in a two-part series about the state Pine Tree Development Zones. To read part one, click here.  

There are two ways the state spends money. One is by paying for goods and services, from roads to colleges to Medicaid. The other way is by not collecting taxes on some business, services and goods. Continue Reading →

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State lacks proof that $46m in Pine Tree Zone tax breaks created jobs

State house, photo John Christie

Editor’s note: This is the first part in a two-part series about the state Pine Tree Development Zones.  

Some people call tax breaks for businesses “economic development.”

Others call them “corporate welfare.”

In Maine, one of the names they go by is Pine Tree Development Zones. The premise of the program is that some businesses won’t create new jobs in Maine unless they get tax breaks. The program has cost as much as $46 million in lost taxes since 2003, according to Maine Revenue Service estimates. That’s money other taxpayers had to make up to help the state balance its budget. Continue Reading →

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