Thanks to privacy laws, taxpayers are barred from finding out how much public money will be handed out to Cape Wind, federal and state officials told the Herald yesterday – even though the controversial offshore wind farm is seeking nearly $1.3 billion in federal tax credits and loan guarantees.
IRS spokeswoman Peggy Riley said she can’t reveal any tax credits taken by Cape Wind, the $2.6 billion plan to put 130 wind turbines in Nantucket Sound.
“Most tax information is protected by the privacy and disclosure laws. The only way you can find out is by checking with the taxpayer themselves,” Riley said.
The Herald reported yesterday that Cape Wind executives and lobbyists have donated hundreds of thousands in campaign dollars to key lawmakers, including U.S. Sen. Edward J. Markey, since last year as the wind farm developers seek federal financial backing.
“What it amounts to is a huge subsidy by taxpayers,” said David Tuerck of Suffolk University’s Beacon Hill Institute. “Taxpayers will never fully know what it’s costing them – unless Cape Wind divulges how much they are receiving. Taxpayers have the right to know how much money is going into this because the project would never go forward without the tax credits and federal financing.”
A Department of Revenue spokeswoman said the state only releases recipients of 13 transferable and refundable credits, such as the film tax credit. But that report isn’t entirely accurate because the recipients of those credits can sell them to any company, including Cape Wind, and that information isn’t public.
State Sen. James Eldridge (D-Acton), who’s pushed for years for tax credit transparency, said, “If any company is going to accept taxpayer money, they have an obligation to report how they used that money, and taxpayers have the right to know. I think it’s outrageous that you have companies that say the tax credits they receive aren’t public under the guise that the tax filings are private.”
Eldridge’s latest bill, which would require companies receiving state tax credits to detail hiring and wage practices, is stalled in committee.
“You have a lot of corporate lobbyists fighting this because right now they’re getting huge tax credits without having to show they’re creating any jobs,” said Eldridge. “Their M.O. is ‘trust us.’”