State Question 766 discussed

Q&A with Sasha Beling

published in The Oklahoman | October 25, 2012

McAfee & Taft intellectual property attorney Sasha Beling was featured in a Q&A with The Oklahoman discussing State Question 766, an initiative that would exempt all forms of intangible personal property from ad valorem property taxation, and what it means for Oklahoma businesses.

“Intangible personal property is property that doesn’t physically exist, but still has value to its individual or business owner,” Beling explained. “Examples include patents, trademarks, trade secrets, customer lists, formulas, trade names, copyrights, business goodwill, software and licenses. Also, based on the proposed amendment, mineral interests would be considered intangible personal property.”

The ballot initiative came about after the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled in 2009 that all businesses should pay property taxes on intangible personal property that is not otherwise exempted. The Oklahoma Legislature was so concerned about the potential immediate and drastic impacts on the state’s economy that it created the Business Activity Tax (BAT) in 2010 that would allow locally assessed businesses through December 2013 to pay a $25 fee instead of paying the ad valorem tax on their intangible personal property.

If SQ 766 passes, this BAT would end at the end of this year and businesses will no longer be required to pay the ad valorem tax on any intangible personal property, Beling said.

“Opponents are concerned that passage could hurt the potential recipients of ad valorem taxes, including public schools and other public services… Supporters counter that public schools do not presently receive any tax revenue from ad valorem taxes on intangible property from businesses subject to local assessment (currently paying the BAT).

“Supporters are concerned that failure of SQ 766 will adversely impact all businesses by creating a subjective tax, since intangible property does not easily lend itself to being valued… the tax burden, combined with the uncertainty, could impact the state’s ability to attract companies to Oklahoma.”