Alaska set for vote on oil-tax cut after lobby group submits petition

ANCHORAGE, Alaska Sun Jul 14, 2013 4:53am EDT

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - Critics of an oil-industry tax cut handed a petition with 50,000 signatures to Alaska state officials on Saturday, more than enough to force a referendum that would overturn a new oil tax law.

The bill, approved by the legislature three months ago, replaces taxes tracking oil prices with a cap on tax at 35 percent of net profits. Expectations for the new system were for a likely tax range from about 14 percent to about 20 percent.

"This bill that they passed is against the interests of Alaska," Vic Fischer, a former state senator and one of two surviving authors of the Alaska constitution, told a group of about 50 banner-waving tax-cut opponents gathered outside government offices in Anchorage.

Referendum supporters, organized in a group called "Vote Yes - Repeal the Giveaway", needed 30,169 signatures of registered voters - 10 percent of the total turnout in the last statewide election - to qualify their measure for the 2014 ballot.

Leading oil producers in Alaska include BP Plc, ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil Corp.

Governor Sean Parnell, sponsor of the new tax, argued that steep cuts in oil taxes were needed to lure industry investment away from North Dakota and other booming oil-producing areas. He dubbed the bill the "More Alaska Production Act".

Opponents say the tax cuts are too steep, will cost the state $4.5 billion in lost revenues over five years, and do nothing to reverse North Slope production declines that they say are inevitable as the area's main oil fields age.

(Reporting by Yereth Rosen; Additional reporting by Braden Reddall in San Francisco; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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Comments (4)
morbas wrote:
The people should directly receive mining resource proceeds (as income), it is the peoples land, we the people of USA bought Alaska. This middle man skimming has to end, industry paying any business tax simply usurps government ‘of by and for the people’. A corruption that even pervades five SCUTUS Justices to endow corporations as citizens.

Jul 14, 2013 6:23am EDT  --  Report as abuse
QuietThinker wrote:
@morbas “we the people of USA bought Alaska”
Exactly, the people of the USA bought Alaska and subsidized it for many, many years. The oil in Alaska belongs to the USA as a whole, not to Alaskans alone. I am tired of Alaska skimming tax revenue that belongs to the USA as a whole.

Jul 14, 2013 8:31am EDT  --  Report as abuse
arttie wrote:
Wonder why there is no mention of the payments Alaska residents receive from those taxes!?? Maybe the real complaint is a loss in personal income for the state’s population. Anyway …. that should end. I think cutting the oil tax is a good way to lure more business thereby increasing the state’s revenue. Actually, though, they’re just asking for more accidents to further degrade the land. Greedy, greedy, greedy.

Jul 14, 2013 8:54am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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