A billionaire philanthropist is asking the state of Oklahoma to raise taxes on oil companies, including his own, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
George Kaiser, who is the patron of the George Kaiser Family Foundation and controls Kaiser-Francis Oil Co., said in a prepared statement that Oklahoma is in “desperate financial circumstances” and could put revenue raised from a higher tax on oil-and-gas production toward education and infrastructure projects.
Energy companies in the state currently pay a 7 percent tax on oil and gas revenue, with a 1 percent tax rate for the first four years of a well’s life. Kaiser wants to raise the rate for new wells to 7 percent, with a 3.5 percent rate for a well’s first two years.
The philanthropist said in his prepared statement that raising the tax would not “move the needle in the decision to drill,” according to the Journal.
But it’s unclear how many industry executives in Oklahoma would support Kaiser’s proposal. Three other energy companies in the state, backed by the State Chamber of Oklahoma, have proposed a permanent 2 percent tax rate for the first four years of oil and gas production from new wells. A spokesman for Gov. Mary Fallin (R) told the Journal that the governor is also inclined to support a 2 percent tax rate.