What Are Top States for Data Center Tax Breaks?
November 6th, 2013 By: Industry Perspectives
Jake Iskhakov is the Director of Sales & Marketing at ServerLIFT Corporation.JAKE ISKHAKOV
Technology is one of a few recession-proof industries, and regardless of the state of any economy, the industry continues to evolve and grow year over year. Some companies choose to take advantage during downturns, while others wait until trends start to make their way into the green. Regardless of the growth strategy, there is a constant need to find the best areas to expand the data center footprint.
In choosing a destination to break ground, there are many things to consider such as real-estate costs, weather patterns, natural disasters and staffing, and now there is a new trend that is becoming a part of the decision making process. To capitalize on the boom of data centers, select states are introducing tax breaks as additional benefits for potential expansion. Several states now offer data center-specific tax breaks, and some offer more appealing benefits than others. While taxes are historically not the top criteria in the scope of a data center build, it may be something to start consider.
Virginia, over the past few years, has utilized tax breaks and other financial incentive programs to establish itself as one of the premier locations for hosting data center operations on the Eastern seaboard. In particular, Ashburn, Va., and other surrounding municipalities in Loudoun County have become go-to locations for housing data centers, in part due to the county’s proximity to the D.C. Metro area.
In addition, Virginia has a number of unique tax incentives that help to establish the state as one of the best hosting spots in the region. State law exempts qualified data centers and colocation tenants from paying sales or use tax on hardware, software and other pieces of equipment central to data center operations. Plus, Senate Bill 1133 allows municipalities to establish lower property tax rates for data centers.
The Lone Star State has one of the most business-friendly tax codes in the nation, and this is especially true regarding data center operations. Qualifying data centers – the specific standards that need to be met are established in House Bill 1223 – are exempt from paying personal property taxes on anything that is “necessary and essential” to running such a facility. For example, while office supplies would not fall under this clause, critical IT equipment and electricity are covered by the exemption.
Texas’s law is unique in that it only exempts one occupant per facility. However, the measure sets a minimum size requirement at 100,000 square feet, meaning that one large facility could house multiple data centers that qualify for these tax breaks.
As mentioned on the ServerLIFT TechLIFTblog, Arizona has some of the most data center-friendly tax breaks in the country. For example, House Bill 2488 exempts the transaction privilege tax for data center construction, IT equipment purchases and related energy expenditure. Furthermore, House Bill 2009 provides additional financial incentives for data center owners and operators as well as colocation tenants.
“This makes the state very competitive,” said Sylvia Kang, CyrusOne data center’s vice president of site selection and acquisition, as quoted in the Phoenix Business Journal. “Arizona has great features prior to the bill and is an ideal place for data centers to be located, but this really puts Arizona on a financial level playing field. It helps us to get clients previously looking at neighboring states to come here instead.”
Taxes are just one of the many costs that affect data center operations. However, they are enough of a burden that even a slight difference can affect the decision on where to build your next location.
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Great article Jake. My only argument is Texas where the dollar limits are set so high that few people can take advantage and the benefits cannot be passed along to the colocation tenants like they can be in Virginia and Arizona.
Have you seen the incentive in Minnesota. It only requires a $30 million total capital expenditure and a building size of only 25,000 square foot and gives you four years to get there. For that, you get rebated all of your upfront sales tax costs and 20 years of sales tax exemption on all of your equipment, software and energy costs. Add those savings to a minimal natural disaster risk profile, energy costs that are 20% below the national average and 7,550 hours of free cooling, it makes a total package that’s way better than any of the state’s you mention in your article.