Comcast could lose $15M-a-year Oregon tax break

Utility van with the word "Comcast on the side"
(Mike Mozart/CC BY 2.0)

Oregon state legislators want to roll back a tax break they passed unanimously back in 2015 that was meant to spur competition for gigabit-speed internet services.

If the tax break is overruled, the Oregonian says, Comcast could be liable for an additional $15 million in state taxes each year, while Frontier Communications could take a $2.5 million annual hit. 

RELATED: Oregon House passes tax law aimed at Comcast

The tax law was lobbied for by Google Fiber. But that company’s broader retrenchment from its ambitious national fiber rollout plan kept it from ever capitalizing on the tax rule change. 

Without doing much of anything, Comcast has been the big winner. The cable operator qualified for the break because it had a fiber-to-the-home product available to a limited number of consumers in Oregon. That plan costs $300 a month and includes a $1,000 installation fee, so it probably wasn’t what state lawmakers had in mind when they drafted the bill. 

"We should start over. It's too generous a tax break," said Portland Democratic State Congressman Rob Nosse to the Oregonian. "I'm not even sure if it's needed, and I think we should stop offering it.” 

"Our position is that the tax credit can and maybe even should be repealed," added Brant Wolf of the Oregon Telecommunications Association, which is representing Frontier before the Oregon Legislature. “However, any repeal should after a date certain and not made retroactively applicable to investments made based on the existing law; investments that would not have been made absent the tax credit incentive."