Guam – “Our View” is a periodic feature representing the editorial opinion of the Pacific News Center written by Jon Anderson.
“Our View”: Tax Credits Challenge Transparency
There was a strange exchange between the Legislature and the administraiton this week, one that put a strain on the transparency of the Calvo administration.
It took some FOIA requests from the office of Vice Speaker B. J. Cruz—who happens to be the only lawyer in the legislature—before payment to private Leyon land owners by dint of tax credits was revealed. Initially the Senators research indicated the tax credit program was dormant. In fact, he was initially told by an admistration official that the program was exactly that—dormant.
It turned out this administration has used the dormant program to pay something north of $30 million to the owners of that condemned land. That’s a far cry from dormancy. Officials scrambled to explain, admitting they were using the no longer dormant program to satisfy court ordered payments to the Leyon landowners.
The Vice Speaker went after the details—who was getting what—but the Department of Revenue and Taxation clamped a lid on the details. Apparently they can publish a list of delinquent property tax liabilites with the names of non-payers, but the tax credit payments are confidential.
So much for transparency. We believe the payments should be public. The names of the Leyon landowners have already been revealed, so why the secrecy over how much tax credit they have received?
Furthermore each tax credit granted represents revenue GovGuam will not get. How long are these agreements for? Another confidentiality issue.
Tax credits are yet another obligation , just like longrange bonds. Our children and grandchildren will pay, and pay, and pay.