If you had any doubt whether the state subsidy for Solyndra was a tax break or a spending program, your question is answered. As I discussed earlier this month , Solyndra was the recipient of up to $34 million in California sales “tax breaks,” granted by an obscure office under the State Treasurer, to encourage development of clean energy manufacturing in California. The program is formally known as the “Advanced Transportation and Alternative Sources Manufacturing Sales and Use Tax Exclusion Program.”
But that obscure agency, the California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority, has suspended consideration of new applications for sales tax exclusions, and will vote next Tuesday on whether to formally suspend the program.
Administrative agencies cannot suspend tax credits, deductions, exemptions or exclusions. They operate as a matter of law and are effectively entitlements that reduce a taxpayer’s tax if he or she meets certain statutory qualifications. There’s no sales tax on food from a grocery store – you don’t need to apply to a state agency for your tax exemption. No state bureaucrat can tell you whether or not you qualify for income tax exclusions for dependents; all you need to is truthfully indicate that on your tax return.
Solyndra did not get a “tax break” from California; they received a discretionary spending subsidy administered by the Treasurer’s office.