DFP Bill #5: Extending Bank Franchise Tax to All South Dakota Corporations

Dakota Free Press
Legislative Proposals

South Dakota imposes income tax on banks and financial institutions; why not on all corporations that transact business or own property in our fair state?

A bill to create a corporate tax applied fairly to all corporations (and admit it, banker: you don’t think it’s fair that the state discriminates against you while letting the car dealers and caterers off scot free, do you?) could take numerous forms and fill numerous pages. We could adopt Minnesota’s corporation franchise tax and just dial each tax rate back a percentage point to maintain a competitive edge. For blog purposes, let’s keep things simple and homegrown and simply apply the bank franchise tax to all corporations in the state. However, we need to make one exception: the bank franchise tax is absurdly regressive, charging the highest rate, 6%, for the first $400 million in net income, then quickly scaling down to tax income in the top bracket, above $1.2 billion, at only 0.25%.

If we’re going to have any income tax, it ought to be progressive:

Dakota Free Press Bill #5: Applying the Bank Franchise Tax to All Corporations in South Dakota 

FOR AN ACT ENTITLED, An Act to collect tax on all corporate income.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA:

Section 1: The franchise tax applied to banks and financial institutions under Chapter 10-43 shall also apply  to all corporations that transact business or own property in South Dakota.

Section 2: That § 10-43-4 be amended to read:

10-43-4.   Time of liability for tax–Rate of tax–Minimum. The liability for the tax imposed by §§ 10-43-2 and 10-43-2.1 on corporate income shall arise upon the first day of each tax year and shall be based upon the net income assignable to this state at the rate of six percent on net income of four hundred million dollars or less; at the rate of five percent on net income exceeding four hundred million dollars but equal to or less than four hundred twenty-five million dollars; at the rate of four percent on the net income exceeding four hundred twenty-five million dollars but equal to or less than four hundred fifty million dollars; at the rate of three percent on the net income exceeding four hundred fifty million dollars but equal to or less than four hundred seventy-five million dollars; at the rate of two percent on the net income exceeding four hundred seventy-five million dollars but equal to or less than five hundred million dollars; at the rate of one percent on the net income exceeding five hundred million dollars but equal to or less than six hundred million dollars; at the rate of one-half of one percent on the net income exceeding six hundred million dollars but equal to or less than one billion two hundred million dollars; and at the rate of one-quarter of one percent on the net income exceeding one billion two hundred million dollars. at the following rates:

  • two percent on net income of four hundred million dollars or less;
  • four percent on net income exceeding four hundred million dollars but equal to or less than eight hundred million dollars;
  • six percent on net income exceeding eight hundred million dollars but equal to or less than one billion two hundred million dollars; and
  • eight percent on net income exceeding one billion two hundred thousand dollars.

The tax payable under this section may be no less than two hundred dollars for each authorized location at which the financial institution corporation subject to taxation under § 10-43-2 this state’s corporate income tax regularly conducts business in this state.

I invite readers to try to figure out the fiscal impact of extending the corporate tax from banks and financial institutions to all corporations doing business in South Dakota. If we speculate on the basis of some 2007–2011 numbers provided by the Tax Foundation, if we collected corporate income taxes at the same per capita rate as Minnesota, we’d add roughly $144 million to the general fund… which, similar to cutting 13% of our business-favoring sales tax exemptions, would be more than enough to pay for Medicaid expansion and the Blue Ribbon teacher pay raises.


10 Responses to DFP Bill #5: Extending Bank Franchise Tax to All South Dakota Corporations

  1. C Brechtelsbauer

    The bank tax itself should apply to bank income from all their accounts, not just those of South Dakotans. I think at least some of that missed income is not taxed anywhere.
    This could be huge, but we don’t know how big. Banking operations have been moving to South Dakota, but before we had a chance to see the impact of the additional revenue SD’s bank franchise tax would have generated, the 2014 legislature changed the statute so the tax now applies only to the portion of bank income that comes from customers who live in South Dakota.

  2. Porter Lansing

    Those numbers seem a bit low on the bottom end. I pay 4.63% state corporate income tax (no matter how high income is) BUT CO has no “privilege tax” (a tax for doing business here) like many states do.

  3. Porter Lansing

    Oooops, sorry. I don’t pay corporate income tax because S corps are “pass through” and the income tax is paid personally. Never mind. C corps pay a flat 4.63% state corp. income tax.

  4. mikeyc, that's me!

    If credit unions and Farm Credit Services paid franchise taxes like banks do, it would add $5 million to the states coffers, which in turn goes back to the local communities.
    But that takes an act of Congress.

  5. This idea is long overdue. Republicans always claim that corporate income taxes stunt economic growth, that the lack of a corporate income in South Dakota brings business to SD, but after agriculture and tourism what has been the largest growth area for the economy in South Dakota in the last 30+ years during all of the supply-sider myths? It has been the banking and the credit card industry, the one industry which has been subjected to an income tax all along…..

  6. Porter Lansing

    Good one, Winston.

  7. Credits and farm credits pay their profits back to the members, Mikeyc.

    Members pay tax on those profits.

    Guess you could figure out a way to tax em again. State income maybe?

  8. Low on the bottom end, Porter? Maybe. I’d like to see an analysis of business incomes in South Dakota to find out just how many are in which bracket and how much we could make taxing those brackets at various rates. Politically I figure if we can ever get legislators to consider extending the income tax from banks to other businesses (and I need to find some historians who can tell me how we got an income tax on banks in the first place), it won’t hurt to sell it to legislators as still lower than the rate other states are charging their corporations. But certainly, if this bill hit committee and the floor, the rates and brackets would be prime topics for debate.

  9. Indeed, Winston, the bank franchise tax was in place when Janklow brought us the Sanford-Huether usury revolution, and Sanford and Huether made out just fine. And all those Fortune 500 companies are still headquartered in Minnesota, which is raking in $555 million more than expected for its budget, mostly from better than expected personal and corporate income tax. Corporate income taxes do not stunt growth.

  10. The fact that credit unions are exempt from federal income tax and SD Bank Franchise Tax is a patriotic affront to our nation and state. BHFCU is allowed to spread across the state like a tax-free noxious weed while county after county cries about shortfalls. The answer is as plain as the nose on our face people, TAX CREDIT UNIONS.