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What Is Tax Increment Financing? A Live Primer For The Oakland A's Las Vegas Ballpark Project - Oaknews

What Is Tax Increment Financing? A Live Primer For The Oakland A's Las Vegas Ballpark Project

What Is Tax Increment Financing? A Primer For Las Vegas On The Oakland A's LV Ballpark Project The Oakland A's Las Vegas Ballpark Project has sparked a lot of completely baseless talk about a property tax collection and use approach that goes back to 1952: tax increment financing, or "TIF". It was first created in California, and led to the largest use of what is called TIF of any state in America. Today, tax increment financing is law in every state of America, with New Jersey being the last to adopt it in 2009. Ok, but what is tax increment financing and who am I? I am Zennie Abraham, and I have 37 years of experience in TIF and from 1987, when the City of Oakland hired me as a redevelopment intern, and I built a giant spreadsheet model that could be used for any redevelopment tax increment financing project in the State of California. I used it to gain consulting engagements with the City of Emeryville, then the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency, and then work for the San Francisco Human Rights Commission under the late Edward Lee, later SF's great mayor. In 1995, I was hired as Economic Advisor to Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris. From 1999 to 2000, I headed the effort to bring the Super Bowl to Oakland - we lost to Jacksonville. And from 2003 to 2010, I was CEO of Sports Business Simulations, where my Oakland Baseball Simworld contained a TIF option for a new stadium. Thousands of students at the University of San Francisco and over 40 colleges and high schools learned about tax increment financing via my online simulation game for the classroom, and based on the Oakland Athletics' quest for a new ballpark. Now, back to TIF. TIF is a way to allow the expected property tax, sales tax, and other expected taxes from a new development project to be used to help pay for its construction. In California, the original idea was to catalyze the redevelopment of places considered blighted, and so not attracting private investment. It was formed to counter the investor racism that stopped development in predominantly black areas of a city. Today, TIF's primary purpose is to generate a desired type of development and also to use part of that money to fund special social programs, like affordable housing. In Nevada, tax increment financing is already part of special tourism development legislation, a bill called AB 10 that's for transportation and affordable housing, and TIF has a general use designation as well. In general, TIF works like this: From legislative approval, property taxes (and sometimes sales taxes and other taxes) normally paid from the land-owner to the government's general fund go to a special fund or a completely different organization called a "redevelopment financing authority". That redevelopment financing authority", in the Oakland A's case, is to be the Las Vegas Stadium Authority. Then, a proposed first year before the start of the collection of tax revenue for TIF is established, and it's called "the base year". That's the first year that assessed value is recorded for TIF. Then, in the second year, the assessed value for that year, is subtracted from the base year, and we get the first year of what is called the "tax increment". The normal property tax rate is multiplied times that tax increment to get the final TIF Revenue for that year. Then, the process is repeated, where the base year assessed value is always subtracted from that "current" year, be it year 1, year, 2, and so on. That process is repeated the number of times equal to the years the bond revenue will be collected. So, if you have a 30-year bond issue, as allowed by Nevada law, then that process is done 30 times, once each year. In the A's case, TIF, normally used for privately-owned buildings, is done with a twist: the A's pay a "possessory interest tax" - which serves to fuel the TIF revenue flow that the normal property tax does. All of that is used to pay off the annual debt of a bond issue - that is principal and interest. So, the TIF revenue has to cover that interest over the proceeds of the bond - the $550 million or the the $395 million are the proceeds, but the tax increment revenue will be the same if the project cost remains at $1.5 billion. The problem is the A's don't want to pay a tax, and that damages how TIF works, because there's no money to do it - unless the government does it. That's never been done, and should not be done. The A's should pay the tax. Stay tuned.
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