Should the legislature bring back a tax when this
Changes to this?
Oregon counties are in desperate need of funding. For the past 20 years, an unfair timber tax system has allowed logging companies to profit from rural counties’ natural resources and leave them in the lurch financially. Now these communities are struggling to maintain their sheriff’s departments and fund mental health and emergency services for their residents.
Additionally, the corporate structure of many timber companies that own land in Oregon (e.g., real estate investment trusts and timber investment management organizations) allows them to get away with paying no corporate income taxes. So while these companies prosper from Oregon’s natural resources, the state has lost out on revenue.
Now is the time to take action, and we need your help: write to your legislators to encourage them to pass a bill this year to rectify this financial imbalance.
HB 2379 is a solution. It proposes reinstating the severance tax, which is a tax on the value of timber at the time of harvest. Logging companies would pay this in addition to the tax on the land they own. This system would ensure that all landowners are paying their fair share.
The bill is currently with the House Revenue Committee. HB 2379’s sponsor, Rep. Paul Holvey, is submitting a new amendment to the bill that would direct money collected from the tax as follows:
- 40% to the counties where timber is harvested
- 40% to the Wildfire Management Fund
- 10% to the Forestry Department to administer the Oregon Forest Practices Act
- 5% to the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board
- 5% to Oregon State University Forestry Education and Research to fund educational programs for K-12 students
The proposed tax rates are:
- 1% for landowners of 500 acres or less
- 3% for landowners of 500–2,500 acres
- 4% for landowners of 2,500-5,000 acres
To promote sustainable forest management, there are incentives for landowners that receive Forest Stewardship Council certification:
- 50% reduction in severance tax for landowners with 5,000 acres or less
- 1% reduction in severance tax for landowners with 5,000 acres or more
With this amendment, the bill would:
- ensure that timber counties have the money they need to pay for services
- collect proceeds for firefighting as we face increasingly devastating wildfire seasons
- assist communities with wildfire preparedness so residents can reduce harm to their homes
- tax industrial timber companies—which have lower costs and higher profits—at higher rates than small timberland owners
- promote responsible and sustainable forest management, which is critical for protecting drinking water supplies and fighting climate change
Timber companies have skated by long enough and our communities need funds to pay for the many challenges they’re facing.
Our legislators need to hear that the unfair timber tax structure is an urgent problem they must act upon now to fix. Please write to your legislators and the members of the House Revenue Committee to urge them to support HB 2379 with the new amendment.