The Stack Archive

Amazon set to build more data centres if Oregon tax issue resolved

Mon 9 Feb 2015

Amazon is planning to expand its data centre holding with up to 11 new facilities in Oregon should a state issue be addressed.

Last week, an Amazon official stood in front of state lawmakers to testify on ‘central assessment’ – an issue regarding the levying of property taxes on utilities and telecom organisations.

Amazon currently owns four data centres on 100 acres in the Morrow County region of eastern Oregon and had to stop construction on a fifth due to the tax concern, which the online retailing giant is waiting for the state to resolve.

Until now the central assessment tax structure has not applied to data centres but operators in the region fear that state officials will roll it over to include their sites. If applied to data centres, the tax could also affect Apple’s Oregon server farm in Prineville, and plans to deliver Google Fiber’s high-speed offering to Portland.

“Eliminating the threat of central assessment will permit Amazon to continue to invest in Oregon,” said Amazon’s state public policy manager Eileen Sullivan in front of the Senate Committee in Finance and Revenue.

“The plan was to go north of 10, to 12 or 15,” Sullivan continued, without ceding further detail.

Data centres are Oregon’s second largest tech sector in terms of capital investment, falling only slightly behind the region’s booming semiconductor industry.

Many of the big tech players have been drawn to the area thanks to favourable tax arrangements. The state does not apply sales tax on supercomputers and does not include enterprise zone data centres under its property taxes.

More hearings are expected to take place over the course of the day, including discussion around SB 570 and 571, two bills which seek to establish caps on central assessment and exempt data centres from the tax.

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