The Norman Transcript

Opinion

October 28, 2012

SQ 766 a pig dressed as a debutante

NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:

About two weeks back, a commercial began running on television promoting passage of State Question 766. According to the message, passage of SQ 766 would cure a wide range of ills.

Without the changes sought, attacks could be made to levy taxes on everything from teaching certificates to college degrees and a number of other professional accomplishments.

The promotion even claims that this single change in the Oklahoma Constitution would curb so-called “reactionary judges,” keeping them from forcing citizens to pay for sex-change operations and for offenders to sue their victims.

The fact is that SQ 766 would amend Section 6A of Article 10 of the Oklahoma Constitution to exempt all intangible personal property from ad valorem property taxation. At present, that section exempts most intangible personal property from ad valorem property taxation while allowing taxation of certain properties.

To be clear, ad valorem property tax is a tax imposed upon the fair market value of real and personal property. By definition, intangible personal property is property whose value is not derived from its physical attributes but rather what it represents or evidences. For example, patents, inventions, formulas, designs, trade secrets, contracts, leases, mineral interests, custom computer software, trademarks, trade names, brand names and a few other intangible properties may be taxed as property. All other intangible property already is exempt under Oklahoma law.

Another important point, only the Oklahoma legislature has the authority to initiate and enact — with approval of the governor or a vote of the people — any taxes.

The only intangible property worth the time and effort to tax would be items of monetary value. Patents and copyrights both carry value due to the fact that use of or sale of anything included are limited to the owner.

Examples of patents having value include the Intel microchip, the automobile fuel injection system and many thousands of other items we use every day. Copyrighting is practiced by the NFL, Major League Baseball, the NCAA and practically every publishing and television network in the world.

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