Tax breaks and transparency in Quebec

New Brunswick Business Journal columnist David Campbell notes the reputation of Québec as a "bad boy" in terms of stealing jobs from other provinces (and, presumably, the United States) by offering generous tax incentives and grants to private industry. But he lauds the Québec government for releasing generous amounts of public data about the effectiveness of these business incentives. ("Despite offering the most lucrative business incentives in Canada, Investissement Québec claims to have a cost-benefit ratio of 3.74 to 1. In other words, for each tax dollar spent by the Quebéc government it collected $3.74 in tax and incidental tax revenues.")

Indeed, the Investissement Quebéc website is a bountiful source of information on the government’s efforts to lure business to La Belle Province. It includes a 112-page annual report detailing the agency’s 1,451 "financing operations" over 2006-07, which supposedly created 10,959 jobs and "retained" 10,722 jobs.

As far as I know, Massachusetts does not have an equivalent source of data (though the Department of Housing and Economic Development touts infrastructure grants and other resources for new businesses). But perhaps more transparency about the benefits of business incentives would mean more political support for them.

CommonWealth editor Bruce Mohl asked whether the state is coming out ahead from tax breaks for the film and life sciences industries in our Spring issue; read his cover story here