Between 1993 and 2020, Alabama gave away $4 billion in tax incentives to corporations like Amazon, Mercedes, Toyota and Google to incentivize job creation. But those giveaways were made with little to no transparency and accountability—and with often questionable return on investment for Alabama taxpayers. Meanwhile, Alabama’s incredibly low tax collection rates each year impact the state’s ability to invest adequately in critical public services and programs. While the state ranks No. 49 in total tax collection, it also ranks among the states with the highest poverty rate, lowest levels of educational attainment, and highest incarceration rate.
In this report, Patricia Todd, JMA’s Southern Policy Manager and a former Democratic Alabama state legislator of 12 years, combines her inside political perspective with additional research by Jobs to Move America to make the case for a increasing transparency and accountability around Alabama’s corporate tax incentive giveaways.
If implemented, the report’s recommendations would bring Alabama closer in line with other Southern states like Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, Mississippi, and Tennessee, which already release much more public information about their tax incentive programs.
Among the report’s recommendations:
- Provide full public information on all corporate subsidies and tax credits awarded, the terms of each deal, and the extent to which the recipient has complied with the terms of the subsidy agreement.
- Provide robust public information on how return on investment is calculated for each incentive award, including information on the impact of companies’ operations on communities, workers, and current businesses.
- Adopt a Unified Economic Development budget for all economic development initiatives, including a comprehensive accounting of all corporate tax incentive awards.
“Alabamians’ public tax dollars should be used to create as much good as possible for our communities—not to further enrich billion dollar corporations,” said Todd. “The recommendations in this report will bring more transparency to our state’s tax incentives programs and ensure that Alabamians have the information they need to keep corporations and public officials accountable to the public.”