Raising & SAVING Revenue

Our top priority for this session: Pass through income tax breaks. We’re working to end entirely an Oregon tax break for business owners and to disconnect from a similar new Federal tax break for business profits that are passed not at the business level, but as a part of owners’ income. Doing these two steps would save $600 million a biennium which could be better directed to serving Oregon’s most urgent needs. See SB 1527.

Many small to medium business owners who are active in their businesses pay Oregon income taxes at lower rates than their employees at the same income. This includes restaurant, remodeling and construction, retail, fishing, agriculture, forestry, manufacturing, professional services, hospitality, wholesale trade, and other owners. These lower rates are projected to reduce revenue by $239 Million in the next biennium. The new Federal tax break is even worse, as it goes to owners whether they are active in the business or si00mply investors. If Legislators follow this tax break, it’s projected to reduce revenue by $400 million. Do the benefits to business outweigh Oregon’s responsibility to educate its children and provide critical services? We think not. Top priority.

Document Recording fees are charged when folks purchase a home. In Oregon the state gets a tiny $20, and uses the money to address homelessness and helping low income families become homeowners. We’re working to raise that amount to $75. Connected to the same bill is a new First-time Home Buyers Savings Account, which would help many Oregonians save for a down payment. We are working to improve this bill. HB 4007

Craft distillers, though their industry seems to be thriving, want “relief” from taxes they pay to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission for alcohol they sell on site! After all, the number of distillers in the state almost doubled from 46 to nearly 100 in four years, so it looks like these businesses can manage just fine without this tax break. It would take from the OLCC the money it uses to makes sure the businesses aren’t selling to minors or bootlegging, and distributes for alcohol treatment, economic development, and other public uses. Of course the distillers call it a tax burden they are paying, but actually it’s a tax they are collecting on site, just as a liquor store would collect that same tax if their bottles were sold there. SB 1

Advocates want new tax credits for cleaning up brownfields – sites contaminated by prior business uses. Oregon manages a Federal program, has its own loan program, and the legislature recently passed two new laws that haven’t been used yet. Meanwhile, many sites have already been cleaned up, without these new programs. We’re questioning why the Oregon public should do more.

Will Oregon’s 529 College Savings Plan get weakened to support private k-12 education? This will be just one of many decisions legislators make as they examine the 113 elements of the newly passed Federal tax cut bill. What to do about the Federal law’s limit of $10,000 on State and Local Tax deductions (SALT deduction), the changes to Bonus Depreciation and 179 expensing are also on the table. We expect these issues to be addressed in HB 4080 or SB 1529.

Subsidies for builders of market rate housing – HB 4108; for solar and other environmental efforts – HB 4027 & HB 4121; and for short line rail improvements HB 4083, will get our attention as we have time.