Incentives and Assumptions: Comparing Alaska’s Oil Production Taxes

Alaskans will soon vote on whether to keep the state's new oil production tax, known as SB 21, that went into effect this year, or to go back to the previous tax, called Alaska's Clear and Equitable Share (ACES). A new analysis by Matthew Berman, professor of economics at ISER, looks broadly at how the new tax compares with the tax it replaced, examining not only how future state revenues might differ under the two systems, but also other differences—how the two compare with older production tax regimes and how government-industry relationships vary under the two systems. He finds that SB 21 has a number of drawbacks, compared with earlier systems, including its administrative complexity and its low effective tax rate for new oil—which means that the state's percentage share of the value of the oil is likely to decline over time. He identifies the one major problem with ACES as its high effective tax rates, which could hamper new investment. Overall, Dr. Berman concludes that the tax system in place before ACES—the Petroleum Profits Tax, replaced by ACES in 2007—is arguably a better fit for Alaska, because it had neither the high tax rates of ACES nor the administrative complexity of SB 21. Download the full analysis, Comparing Alaska's Oil Production Taxes: Incentives and Assumptions (PDF, 684KB). If you have questions, get in touch with Gunnar Knapp, ISER's director, at or 907-786-7717.
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