Tax breaks for data centers, telecommunications companies passes Senate

The proposed change to the state’s tax law is intended to entice companies like Google Fiber and Comcast.

Share this article!


A proposed change to the state’s tax law, intended to entice companies like Google Fiber and Comcast to invest in Oregon, passed the Senate with an overwhelming majority Monday.

The bill passed 27-3 and will head to the House today.

The Portland Tribune reports:

The bill has several aims. It would exempt from central assessment by the state data centers such as those Google opened in The Dalles in 2006, Facebook opened in Prineville in 2011, and Apple has completed in Prineville. Amazon, the electronic retailer, also has data centers near Boardman. But Apple and Amazon, among others, delayed plans for more data centers because of uncertainty over future tax policy. Lawmakers had passed a temporary fix for data centers in 2012.

“We can’t risk losing the investment of companies like Facebook and Apple,” says Sen. Bill Hansell, R-Athena, whose district includes Boardman.

Mike Rogoway of reported that Comcast said it pays more than three-times in property taxes in Oregon than any other state in which it operates.

Assessing a company’s brand and other intangible assets is an unusual method of valuing property, and Comcast fought central assessment in court. The cable TV company lost a key ruling by the Oregon Supreme Court last fall but some aspects of the issue continue to be litigated.

Rogoway highlighted the bill’s impact on Comcast and other telecommunication companies.

SB611 makes three changes:

  • It caps central assessment for Comcast and other telecom companies based on a formula that draws on the historical cost of their Oregon investments.
  • It creates a new program that exempts Internet service providers that offer superfast gigabit connections, like the project Google Fiber is contemplating, from central assessment.
  • It exempts data centers from central assessment.