Massachusetts gives IBM a $2.5M tax break for absolutely no reason whatsoever

092415blog ibm watson health tax break

Screen capture from site explaining IBM Watson Health.

Credit: IBM

IBM was looking for office space to house its IBM Watson Health initiative and picked a new building in Cambridge, Mass., a decision the state of Massachusetts rewarded with an utterly gratuitous $2.5 million tax break.

“We had competition for IBM Watson Health nationally and internationally,” a spokesman for the state agency in charge of frittering away tax dollars tells the Boston Globe. “They could have gone anywhere in the world and would have been welcomed.”

Anywhere in the world.  That’s undoubtedly true. So we are expected to believe that IBM’s decision makers – some of the smartest cookies found anywhere in the world – picked Cambridge because the state of Massachusetts is going to give the company a $2.5 million tax break? Absent that tax break, the state suggests, IBM Watson Health might be headed for Hartford or Honduras.

Anything is possible.

Or maybe, just maybe, IBM chose Cambridge because the area is already jam-packed with health and technology companies, not to mention that MIT and Harvard are located there.

I’m not the only one who suspects this might be the case. From the Globe story: “My basic takeaway is that it’s very likely that IBM would have chosen this same location without receiving any tax credits whatsoever,” said Adam Langley, a senior research analyst at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy in Cambridge. “That’s a windfall for the company that most businesses are not in a position to receive.”

IBM has promised to create 500 new jobs in exchange for its tax break. If they don’t, there will be hell to pay … or at least they’ll have to give back some of the $2.5 million.

They’ll create 500 new jobs if they need 500 new employees.

If they don’t, they won’t.

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