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Andy Peterson, Published February 16 2013

Letter: Business creates ND jobs

In his Feb. 9 commentary in The Forum, State Sen. George B. Sinner, of Fargo, is critical of efforts by legislators to lower corporate and oil taxes. I would like to share the Greater North Dakota Chamber’s perspective on some of the points made in his column.

We need to lower taxes in North Dakota. However, Sinner is wrong to think that corporate taxes should not be touched, and that we should not have a discussion about the future of oil extraction taxes.

Mostly, he echoes the thoughts of some who say we are giving tax breaks to companies headquartered in different states. This argument is aimed at our big-box stores. But Sinner forgets that many of our strongest employers are owned by corporations headquartered in other states and some in other countries.

Among these businesses in the state, we can include Marvin Windows, John Deere, Microsoft and Wal-Mart. Among these four companies alone, they employ more than 5,000 North Dakota residents. Given a few minutes of thought, most residents can list numerous employers that have corporate headquarters located elsewhere.

The Greater North Dakota Chamber supports comprehensive tax relief. This includes relief equal to one-third reduction in income, business and property taxes to all who pay these taxes. We are also open to having discussions regarding lowering sales and oil extraction taxes.

We do not believe that efforts to evaluate our state’s oil extraction tax are misguided. North Dakota and the oil industry have changed since the current extraction tax was established. We believe we should give the Legislature the time to evaluate what is a proper oil tax.

Our policy is to address infrastructure first, people next, and then discuss lowering oil taxes. We commend the state’s legislative leadership for also taking this approach. We believe we should provide for the future stability of oil tax revenue by creating a competitive environment for the oil industry and providing some tax relief to an industry that continues to grow and contribute to our economy.

However, we know that government needs to be funded, infrastructure needs to be addressed and the needs of people must be considered. Once we reach these goals, we hope that Sinner agrees with us in providing tax relief for those who do business in North Dakota and for every resident in our state.

We believe that all taxpayers should be treated equally. One of the most effective ways to maintain a competitive business climate in the state is through a fair tax policy.

Peterson is president and CEO, Greater North Dakota Chamber