Portland may create Income Tax to fund art

Bob Clark
Taxpayer Association of Oregon

Having nearly taxed the average homeowner up to the constitutional limits on property taxes, Portland City Council this summer expects to take up a proposal to impose an income tax on its citizens. The proposal comes from the Creative Advocacy Network, one of whose early founders is none other than Mayor Sam Adams. The Creative Advocacy Network lists the Regional Arts and Cultural Council as a member, and the latter receives funding from the City of Portland. The proposed income tax would raise $12 million to not just fund bringing back arts and music classes in some Portland Public Schools (1), but also Portland Symphony and Portland Opera among other high end public endeavors. Under this proposal, citizens with a modicum of income or more would be charged $35 per year and no doubt have to file yet one more tax form(s) in the yearly April 15th tax filing ritual (2). This income tax, along with the other taxes Portlanders pay but other cities do not, represents the continued dysfunction of the City that punishes its citizens for the politician’s inability to balance their budget.

So, to summarize: The everyday worker bee in Portland may get to help subsidize even more opera and symphony for Portland’s 1% who attend them.

I wrote Commissioners Saltzman, Fish, and Fritz to complain about this proposed new income tax and filing burden (3) So far only Commissioner Fritz has replied. Commissioner Fritz acknowledges the merits of my complaint but also believes citizens should maybe have the opportunity to consider the proposal, subject to her further review of the proposal and testimony. (Funny but you don’t usually see city hall give Portlanders the opportunity to consider tax cut proposals. If only I could get Mayor Adams to fund a tax cut study, too.)

The Taxpayer Association of Oregon can help defeat such new taxes. For instance, in May 2011, the Taxpayer Association placed arguments in the Voter’s Pamphlet against the $400 per year PPS property tax measure; ran a lawn sign campaign and sent tax alerts to thousands of homes. This organic resistance very likely swung the few hundred votes by which the PPS bond measure failed.

Join the Resistance: The Taxpayer Association of Oregon

(1) Perhaps because PPS has spent much of its budget on compensation packages now approaching $100k per year on average, per conversation with a school board member.
(2) Reported in Portland Tribune at following link: http://www.portlandtribune.com/news/story.php?story_id=133918581899392000
(3) I didn’t bother writing Mayor Adams and Commissioner Leonard as my personal experience suggests they love public spending too much to listen to someone advocating keeping to existing tax rates and forms.