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Wind companies should pay sales tax

Oklahoma lawmakers once again are scrambling to deal with another massive budget shortfall.

They’re trying to find enough revenue to plug the nearly $900 million budget gap without drastically slashing funding for core services like education, mental health and public safety.

A simple way to make up some of that shortfall is for wind developers to pay sales tax on their purchases, just like nearly everyone else in Oklahoma.

Each new wind turbine, which is manufactured somewhere else and shipped into Oklahoma, could net the state about $90,000 in sales tax revenue.

The math is simple: The average wind turbine costs about $2 million. The statewide sales tax is 4.5 percent, which equals $90,000 per turbine.

Developers are expected to add 750 new turbines in Oklahoma this year. That would generate more than $67 million in revenue this year if wind companies paid sales tax.

Oklahoma desperately needs sales tax revenue to fill its budget shortfall.

Collecting sales taxes on wind turbines and other equipment would allow Oklahoma, and counties where wind farms are developed, to benefit from future development.

Wind companies plan to build more than 10,000 new turbines in Oklahoma, according to permits filed with the Federal Aviation Administration. Such development would provide a major cash infusion for Oklahoma if wind companies paid sales tax like you and I do. Ten thousand turbines would mean about $900 million for Oklahoma in sales tax revenue alone.

Sales tax collection can begin now.

There is no wind development planned for Pittsburg County, but its taxpayers have subsidized the industry’s growth in Oklahoma for years. It’s about time they start getting something back.

Wind developers paying sales tax would create a vital source of revenue for our state.

We all pay sales tax on our purchases. Wind companies should too.

Please call your legislators and tell them it’s time for the wind industry to pay sales tax like the rest of us.

Cliff Branan is executive director of the Windfall Coalition, a group of concerned citizens dedicated to ending wind subsidies so Oklahoma can spend its tax revenue on core government services.