Monday, February 8, 2016

Shale We Tax?

Corbett got his shale-tax facts all mixed up.

Shale We Tax?


(A brief discussion twixt Baer & Baer's editor, a.k.a. BE)

JB: It's Tax Day, boss, time to moan and groan about how much us middle-class saps get sapped while others skate. Grrrr.

BE: A common complaint of the common man.

JB: Ah, but this year there's added ammo for our complaints.

BE: Damn the tax code and pass the ammo.

JB: Yessir. Not only do uber-journalists Bartlett & Steele provide stunning proof of what we always knew about two systems of taxation (one for the powerful, one for the rest of us) in yesterday's Inky, but Harrisburg Patriot-News deputy editorial page editor Heather Long offers some truth about Marcellus Shale and how our Guv tries to cloak it.

BE: He's a shale-cloaker?

JB: No, no, a truth-cloaker. He, and by he, I mean Tom Corbett, recently told the Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce (on one of his brave forays into friendly territory) that we DO tax Marcellus Shale and that the industry paid $71 million in state taxes the last two years, adding, "Who says they aren't paying any taxes?"

BE: Hey, that's news!

JB: Sure, if it was true. But Long dug for details on where the Guv's number came from and found there's no fracking way it's accurate.

BE: A gusher of good journalism!

JB: Indeed. What she found is the $71 million represents taxes from ALL oil and gas companies in the state, not only shale companies. Also, she says, it represents ALL taxes: corporate net income, corporate stock & franchise, employee wage and sale and use taxes.

BE: Well, that's very different.

JB: AND, she adds, despite shale drilling and permits dramatically increasing, tax revenue from oil  and gas actually declined from $47.7 million in `08 to $44.5 million in `09 (2010 stats aren't yet available).

BE: So Corbett wass lumping in all the tax ervenue from all the oil and gas companies in the state and implying that was the take from Marcellus shale drillers.

JB: Right. That's the cloak, and a thin one. Long points out that while 70 percent of all corportations operating in the state don't pay any taxes here (thanks to the Delaware Loophole allowing companies headquartered elsewhere to slip the noose of PA taxes), the PA Budget & Policy Center reports that when it comes to oil/gas firms here, the no-pay figure jumps to 85 percent.

BE: So a bunch of gas and oil companies pay nothing to the state. Drill, baby, drill!

JB: Oh, we're getting drilled all right. And Corbett's pro-drilling novocaine isn't easing the pain. GRRRR!


Daily News Political Columnist
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About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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