Technical Assistance


Incentives Resource Center

Incentives, primarily in the form of tax abatements, are one of the most popular, prominent and efficient forms of direct development assistance. Incentives are generally not categorized as “financing” but rather a tool to reduce financial barriers facing businesses, investors or industry. As such, CDFA focuses exclusively on tax abatements when discussing incentives.

A tax abatement is the relief of tax liability by a tax-payer. For example, if a company locates a plant in a community, it may ask for and receive a tax abatement for relief of all or a portion of its property tax liability. Tax abatements are provided at both the state and local level and can be applied to property, sales, income or other tax liabilities.

Nearly every state authorizes the use of tax abatements. However, many communities do not employ this tool a part of their incentive policy. Conversely, many communities are very aggressive in their use of tax abatements. State agencies are particularly active in the use of tax abatements as incentives to attract and retain businesses.

Tax abatements also come with a considerable amount of accountability. In recent years, the use of tax abatements has spiked in controversy throughout the country. Greater due diligence measures and performance based awarding of tax abatements is becoming common place in development industry. In addition, tools such as smart analytics and abatement reduction have also emerged to ensure accountability on the part of government and business when employing tax abatements.

-Incentives Policies & Procedures

Policies and procedures are the guiding principals behind the use of incentives. CDFA collects policies from communties across the country.

Effective Use of Property Tax Incentives - Lincoln InstituteMembers only Login
This study was published by the Lincoln Institute. The authors examine how to make property-tax incentives for business more effective. They find that governments should not approve every incentive request, target use of incentives, avoid incentive wars, cooperate with surrounding localities, and conduct regular evaluations.
How States Are Improving Tax Incentives for Jobs and GrowthMembers only Login
Building on earlier research by The Pew Charitable Trusts, this report identifies best practices for effectively evaluating tax incentives. Specifically, Pew recommends that states take three steps: make a plan, measure the impact, and inform policy choices.
Best Practices for the Design and Evaluation of State Tax Incentive ProgramsMembers only Login
This report, produced for the Alabama Department of Revenue, analyzes how states use a range of tax and non-tax incentives, both of which have proliferated in the high-stakes bidding war over increasingly-mobile jobs and capital investment.
Striking a Balance: A National Assessment of Economic Development IncentivesMembers only Login
This paper, produced by the Upjohn Institute, analyzes the intensified use of incentives as local governments compete for new plants and corporate relocations, and as private firms increasingly demand a deal. While incentives promise jobs and tax revenue, scholars and practitioners criticize their high cost and limited accountability. Through a comparison of matched establishments, this paper explores how governmental incentive-granting strategy impacts incentive performance.
Financing Disaster Recovery and ResiliencyMembers only Login
Keren Bolter discusses the science behind some of the natural disasters in Florida, then she explores the financing programs and structures for disaster resiliency, partnerships and collaborative efforts to identify financing solutions, and lessons learned from communities that are in the rebuilding process.
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-Training Courses

The Intro Incentives course considers how incentives are used in today’s economic environment and outlines steps that are being taken to reduce risk and achieve better outcomes. In particular, this course addresses the characteristics of well-designed incentive programs and processes to ensure meaningful impact, value, and accountability.

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CDFA // BNY Mellon Webcast Series: The Landscape of Mega Project InitiativesMembers only Login
During this installment of the CDFA // BNY Mellon Webcast Series, expert speakers from CAI Global, Baltimore Development Corporation, Arlington Economic Development, and VEDP provided an in-depth overview of the approaches being used by cities, counties, and states to attract mega projects like Amazon HQ2 and Under Armour.
CDFA // BNY Mellon Webcast Series: Financing Broadband InfrastructureMembers only Login
During this installment of the CDFA // BNY Mellon Webcast Series, Nathan Rosenberg with The Broadband Group and Gregory Dunn with Ice Miller LLP presented some of the various financing options & ownership structures available to communities to provide and increase the quality of broadband infrastructure in the U.S.
CDFA // BNY Mellon Webcast Series: Exploring the Impact of GASB 77Members only Login
During this installment of the CDFA // BNY Mellon Development Finance Webcast Series, our expert speakers provide an in depth look into the implications of this new accounting standard.
CDFA // BNY Mellon Webcast Series: Retail as Economy: The Math Behind Financing Retail DevelopmentMembers only Login
This month’s CDFA // BNY Mellon Development Finance Webcast Series discussed strategies for financing retail development.

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