Three Oregon Tax Measures: What They Would Do

With less than a week to go in this election cycle, Oregonians are faced with nine statewide ballot measures.

Here are my thoughts on the three that are primarily tax measures.

Measure 79 bans future state or local real estate transfer taxes. Only Washington County imposes such a tax now, as anyone who has sold a home there knows. The realtors who put Measure 79 on the ballot don’t want to see such taxes spread to the rest of the state. Government always looks for ways to raise revenue, but taxing home sales isn’t a good idea now or later. I voted Yes.

Measure 84 phases out Oregon’s estate tax and forbids taxes on property transfers between family members. Working all your life to build up an estate valued over the $1 million estate tax exemption should not give government the right to tax what you or your family have paid taxes on all your lives. I voted Yes.

Measure 85 takes any future corporate kicker money from the companies that earned it and places it in the state General Fund. Nothing in the measure assures that the money will benefit public education as the public employee unions that put it on the ballot claim. Special interests will be in Salem lobbying for that money just as they do now. Measure 85 simply takes money from the private sector and grows government. I voted No.

Steve Buckstein is founder and Senior Policy Analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Education, State Taxes, Taxes, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 527 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Rupert in Springfield

    They have been after the corporate kicker for a long time. More divisive politics, more pitting one group against another in order that public employee unions can have more. We saw similar two years ago with measure 67. I wonder if this time it will pass?

    • Steve Buckstein

      Rupert, I’m a policy analyst, not a political analyst, but I think Mitt Romney would be safe betting $10,000 that Measure 85 will pass. After all, with tongue partially in cheek, it take money from greedy out-of-state corporations and gives it to the little children. Who could vote against that?

      • 3H

        Evidently you? 😉

      • Rupert in Springfield

        “Do it for the children” is always the last refuge of a scoundrel. It takes a lot of gall to raise taxes on mom and pop business in the middle of a recession to pay for raises for public employee unions. That’s precisely what these jerks did two years ago. Now the same jerks are back again, more money for them, less for those who need it most. Will people fall for it? Yes. Will schools be any better? No. Will public employee unions get to suck down more money? You bet!

        • DavidAppell

          A recession is often defined as two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth — and Obama ended the Bush recession.

          • Rupert in Springfield

            And popcorn often has cheese flavoring added to it. What the hell does your point have to do with measure 85. Are your gyros just locked in on a course of absolute ninnydom today?

          • DavidAppell

            Are you able to discuss something without being childish, rude and making personal insults? It doesn’t seem so, and if not, then the hell with you — don’t expect replies to your questions.

          • 3H

            He would have to admit that we aren’t in the middle of a recession. And since it was a major component of his argument, he would have to back off of it. It’s much easier to throw up a smoke screen and start calling people names and ranting.

            We’ll call this Exhibit “A”

  • Bob Clark

    I hope Oregonians become more disenchanted with government employee unions which once again spend heavily in political attack adds and using the “children” in other ads; all in their continually effort to pad the flow of taxpayer monies (and borrowed monies) to their union. Geez, just look at what happen just last week at Portland Public Schools. PPS gave up on seeking $40 million in federal grant monies all because their teachers union refused to allow PPS to evaluate individual teachers. Even left of center FDR didn’t want government employees to be unionized; but here in Oregon, we’ve got a bad case of an 800 pound guerilla dominating governance and the economy.

  • DavidAppell

    If a parent buys (say) a painting for $2,000, and on her death it is worth $2,000,000, I think it is entirely appropriate that the recipient of that gain/transfer be taxed.

    • Mike

      the thing is David the only way to pay the TAX on the painting will be to sell it. You know why Walter O’Malley sold the Dodgers? His children would never have been able to pay the stupid Taxes on the franchise after his death. Instead he sold the team to that Dork that cheated on his wife and almost killed the franchise. Death Tax is not really the appropriate title as it’s really a transfer tax only the tax is on you after you receive property. Most people just assume that if someone receives a $2M estate they just pay the tax no biggy. but if the estate is mostly property then you’re screwed unless you yourself have the cash to pay the taxes. Ever wonder why most people who win a car take the cash equivalent? it’s not because they can’t use the car it’s cause they can’t afford to pay the tax out of pocket.

      • DavidAppell

        And so? If such transfers weren’t taxed, the wealthy would convert all their money to property and they would never be taxed — only wage slaves would fund vital government services. (Although Mittens had his legal minions find a way anyhow:

        • Oregon Engineer

          Lets ASS
          UME that you manage to create a business that after you Worked you fingers to the bone it is worth more than 1 million. I read your comment that your are very willing to pay the inheritance tax or your children are willing to pay it to receive the product of your hard work all the while you paid taxes on this business? According to you it is too bad all the family business don’t feel this way as this would solve all our tax problems through infinity.

          • DavidAppell

            Taxes were paid on the business’s *income* — with extremely generous deductions for many of its expenses. If the children were co-owners in the business, they are co-owners afterward, and will pay taxes on its capital gain when they sell — at an extremely generous capital gains rate. If not, they will have essentially received a slug of income, and we tax other income like wages.

            The wealthy are doing *extremely* well in the U.S. The affluent too receive generous deductions, and on something like a home have already received a large subsidy on their mortgage interest. But for some people it’s never enough.

          • Rupert in Springfield

            David, the idea that you know the slightest thing about business taxes is so absurd. Can you list some of these “extremely generous deductions” that you are talking about for a typical Oregon business?

            Go ahead. List a few deductions you regard as “extremely generous”. And that’s for a typical business, not a green welfare business, we know about that crap. List them for a typical type S Oregon corp.

            I doubt you can.

            Actually I know you can’t. Because I know you don’t know a damn thing about what you are talking about.

          • DavidAppell
          • Rupert in Springfield

            That’s a general list of business deductions David.

            I asked you for a list of those deductions for a typical Oregon business you consider “extremely generous”.

            Therefore the conclusion is, either you are an idiot who can’t produce examples of what the hell he is talking about or you think a business being able to deduct anything at all is “extremely generous”

            So, not getting taxed on cost of goods sold is something you consider an “extremely generous” deduction.

            This confirms, as if we needed it, that once again you know absolutely nothing of what you are talking about.

            As always, you are the best witness against yourself.

          • DavidAppell

            “Putting U.S. Corporate Taxes in Perspective”
            By Chye-Ching Huang and Chad Stone

            * “The U.S. corporate tax burden is smaller than average for developed countries.”
            — U.S. Department of the Treasury, “Treasury Conference on Business Taxation and Global Competitiveness: Background Paper,” July 23, 2007, Table 5-3 (giving data on a sample of 19 of the 30 OECD states).

            * “As the Treasury Department has noted, the United States’ low effective tax rate reflects its “narrow corporate tax base,” which is the result of “accelerated depreciation allowances [and] special tax provisions for particular business sectors … as well as debt finance and tax planning.””
            — Office of Tax Policy, U.S. Department of the Treasury, “Approaches to Improve the Competitiveness of the U.S. Business Tax System for the 21st Century,” December 20, 2007.

          • Rupert in Springfield

            Davie, just list the deductions you consider “extremely generous” for a typical Oregon business.

            You used the phrase. You can’t provide an example of what you are talking about?

            You have to keep dodging around? Just give a few examples of deductions you consider “extremely generous” that a typical Oregon business gets.

            Should be simple if you knew what you were talking about.

          • Rupert in Springfield

            Davie, should have been David

          • DavidAppell

            Generous includes deductions for health insurance, rounds of golf, business gifts, “entertainment,” interest on business loans, and more. (I find tax policy utterly boring; I let my accountant handle my business taxes, so I can focus on the interesting stuff.)

            “Oregon Business,” March 2006:

            “Here are some of the prime categories for small business deductions:

            1) Startup expenses: Some of these costs can be deducted immediately; others over 15 years. “However,” notes Fishman, “a special tax rule allows you to deduct up to $5,000 in startup expenses your first year in business.”

            2) Business operating costs: These include all of the “ordinary and necessary” expenses you incur that are related directly to operating your business.

            3) Hired help: This includes money you spend on independent contractors as well as employees. Be sure to follow IRS rules on who qualifies as an independent contractor.

            4) Travel and entertainment: Tax laws recognize that business is often done at restaurants, on the golf course or elsewhere and allow you to deduct a portion (usually half) of “entertainment” costs. Costs for overnight business travel are also deductible, although the IRS looks closely at this area.

            5) Vehicle expense: Local business-related travel costs are another valuable deduction. This includes business use of your car and can be claimed as a per-mile rate set by the IRS. Keep records — this is another red-flag area for auditors.

            6) Retirement and medical deductions: Contributions to qualified retirement plans are a terrific small business deduction. Plus, there are several ways to deduct the cost of health insurance premiums, depending on your business structure.

            7) Inventory: This is tricky tax territory for small businesses. Inventory costs are not handled like other operating expenses. As Fishman, the tax attorney, notes, “A business may deduct only the cost of goods actually sold during a tax year — not the cost of its entire inventory.” Unsold items are considered an asset, not a write-off.”

            Other possible deductions include training costs, business gifts, association dues, advertising, bad debts, fees, licenses, insurance and interest on business loans.


          • Do you even realize that all those “generous” tax deductions are based upon someone making a real, after-tax expenditure on a product or service? It’s not play money; and you can’t legally claim any deduction unless money has actually been spent on a product or service.

          • DavidAppell

            You mean you can’t take deductions for imaginary expenses — they have to be real? Who would have thought?

          • 3H

            Remember when conservatives were big on “Character Counts”? Evidently that lasts only as long as someone doesn’t disagree with them.

          • DavidAppell

            Republicans abandoned “character” with Lee Atwater, and gave it up completely in the days after the 2001 election. They’ve turned mean, resentful, and openly greedy. Jeffrey Toobin quotes Sandra Day O’Connor as saying, ““…it’s my party that’s destroying the country.”

    • WHY?
      vital government services?
      Don’t you just love how the sheeple have now been indoctrinated with class envy.

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