Arizona wants Apple so bad it might hand out yet another tax break

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From sapphire to data. And with a tax break or two thrown in for good measure. Photo: Buster Hein/Cult of Mac
Photo: Buster Hein/Cult of Mac

Thanks primarily to the memories of its botched sapphire production efforts, Apple’s not had the best of luck so far with Mesa, Arizona — although politicians in the state are desperate to keep it there.

Under a new Senate Bill put forward this week, Apple could receive between one and two decades’ worth of tax breaks for its planned Mesa data center. The tax breaks, introduced by State senator Jeff Dial, would relate to Apple primarily because of its plans to power the facility with 100 percent renewable energy.

Apple recently revealed that it would spend $2 billion converting its 1.3-million square foot, failed sapphire plant into a global command center for all of its cloud networks. The company plans to have 150 full-time employees based in Mesa to operate the center, which will be powered by an accompanying solar farm.

The company has previously been granted favorable exemptions for bringing its business to Arizona. When we first covered Apple’s choice of Mesa as a new base for its requirements we noted that the state had pulled out all the stops — including tax breaks, new power line constructions and fast-tracked building permits — to lure Apple.

“Apple is indisputably one of the world’s most innovative companies and I’m thrilled to welcome them to Arizona,” then-Arizona Governor Janice Brewer said at the time. “Apple will have an incredibly positive economic impact for Arizona and its decision to locate here speaks volumes about the friendly, pro-business climate we have been creating these past four years. Their investment in renewable energy will also be greening our power grid, and creating significant new solar and geothermal power sources for the state.”

Since then, other tax breaks have been explored — such as letting Apple pay a 5 percent property tax rate instead of the usual 18.5 percent by having its Mesa building building classed as a Foreign Trade Zone. Last year, Maricopa County records show that Apple paid just $358,500 in property taxes on its Mesa building — compared with previous owner First Solar, which was forced to shell out $1.2 million in property taxes just one year earlier.

While there’s no guarantee that Apple will be eligible for the latest environmental tax break, it just demonstrates once again what a sought-after company Apple is, and the degree to which it can practically dictate its own terms when it comes to your town.

Source: Phoenix Business Journal