Taxpayer Association:Seven big taxes rise up

Taxpayer Association of Oregon Legislative Update
By Jim Welsh

Alert: Personal income tax, corporate tax, carbon tax, water tax, Greenhouse gas tax, health care tax and transportation taxes.

Revenue Committee Now Well Attended
It wasn’t that the business and industry lobby didn’t care about some of the revenue generating bills that were heard once earlier in the session, it was that they have been fighting for their mere existence in Oregon. The economy has challenged them if not eliminated them. Now, as the Legislative session is in the waning days what was promised earlier by the majority leadership is coming clearly in focus. The business and industry lobby all wondered what the majority meant, back in March, by a balanced approach to adjusting the 09-11 budget. There was a definite sense it wasn’t going to be pleasant. For months there has been an ongoing battle with three major pieces of legislation, the agency budgets, and the continuous mantra that there is a need for more money. All these battles, if lost, will cost the taxpayers more in increased cost of goods and services due to increased fees, surcharges, and taxes applied to our everyday needs.

Many ask; how can this be? By the end of the session and after the dust settles it will be easier to do a cost analysis on the impact of all legislation. Once again, it is reiterated, if the legislative leadership is successful in passing most or all of their agenda it will cost the individual taxpayer and corporate taxpayer in the hundreds, if not thousands, of additional fees and taxes to exist in Oregon. This is what happens when there are multiple major pieces of legislation that need funding and agency budgets that need funding, and they are all in different committees with different members attending. Many legislators don’t have time or interest to follow all the different pieces of legislation until a few days before they are required to vote on them. Furthermore, the legislative leadership has a very ambitious and aggressive agenda and a real reluctance to tighten the budget belt. As TAO lobbyist told the Revenue Committee on Wednesday May 27th, “You have a voracious appetite for spending, and it is time to tighten the budget belt.”

Personal Income Tax
The House Revenue Committee heard HB 2649 on Wednesday May 27th and TAO lobbyist was first and only entity to sign up for testimony. TAO lobbyist said that “the alternative minimum tax proposal was only going to hurt Oregon’s economic recovery.” “Taxing those in a high income bracket would likely discourage some of those who were business owners from hiring new employees, investing in capital improvements or purchasing new items from retail providers.” It was interesting that after the TAO testimony the Chair asked if there was anyone else interested in giving testimony and immediately there was a long list of those who thought the higher income individuals should be required to pay their fair share, as defined by the Chair, Rep. Phil Barnhart (D) Eugene, as being more tax liability. This tax proposal is a high priority for the leadership and the final amendments are drafted or close to being drafted.

Corporate Tax
Legislation adjusting the corporate minimum tax was heard Tuesday and Wednesday this week. HB 3405 would adjust the present $100 corporate minimum to larger minimums as corporate income increased. Of course, TAO argued that this was taxing on gross business activity before it was established whether or not there was profit made. The Revenue Committee Chair Rep. Barnhart argues along with some of his colleges that the corporate world in Oregon is not paying their way. TAO and others simply believe it is poor policy to tax before income is adjusted for cost of doing business. It has been explained by numerous business and industry representatives that in this economy a corporation is fortunate to be able to exist much less pay increased costs, such as higher corporate minimum taxes.

Carbon Tax
SB 80 is into multiple amendments with no conciliatory sign from the Governor or leadership. Our electricity providers, investor owned utilities (IOUs), consumer owned utilities (COUs) and municipal owned utilities (MOUs) are all trying to adjust to the bills requirements to reduce their carbon footprint and add renewable energy generation as required by state law. Of course, we all are supplied electricity by one or the other utility type and it should concern us, as the bottom line rate payer, how this legislation will effect future electricity rates. It was recently reiterated by the Portland Business Journal that a new economic reporting entity ( was reporting that Oregon is one of the leaders in reduced carbon output, as greenhouse gas emissions for households, in the nation and world. It still seems that it is the Governor and legislative leadership that want Oregon to be a leader in Climate Change legislation even when we are already leaders. It is obvious that a legacy must be in legislative language and it doesn’t matter that Oregonians must pay extra for the legacy.

Water Tax
The Ways & Means Natural Resource Subcommittee is still deliberating over the fiscal report for four of the proposed water bills. SB 740 would be the most likely mechanism for establishing a statewide tax on water. The bill would require every water user whether on a municipal system, a domestic well, an irrigation district, an instream diversion, any water user and water rights holder to pay an annual fee (tax) on water. The Chair of Senate Environment and Natural Resources and CoChairs of Ways & Means have been advised of the tax implications of SB 740 and now realize maybe it won’t be a priority this session after all.

Green House Gas Taxes
The multi amended HB 2186 still remains in Ways & Means Natural Resource Subcommittee and received further deliberation on May 27th. The coalition working against this legislation is still providing information to legislators and urging them to vote “NO.” If there are further amendments the bill will need further fiscal analysis and a close vote in the House does not mean the bill will pass in the Senate. The coalition is working hard to secure the necessary votes in the Senate to kill the bill once it gets there. It helped that Washington Governor Gregorie signed an executive order which effectively stalled further legislative action and asked for more information from agencies. ( is reporting that Oregon is one of the leaders in reduced carbon output, as greenhouse gas emissions for households, in the nation and world. It still seems that it is the Governor and legislative leadership that want Oregon to be a leader in Climate Change legislation even when we are already leaders. It is obvious that a legacy must be in legislative language and it doesn’t matter that Oregonians must pay extra for the legacy.

HJR 48 proposes amendment to Oregon Constitution allowing Legislative Assembly to impose taxes on carbon emissions for purpose of funding reductions in carbon emissions and carbon fuel use. This legislation refers proposed amendment to people for their approval or rejection at next regular general election. Many of us that have been fighting the climate change hyperbole were hoping HJR 48 would not even see the light of day even though TAO has reminded the Revenue Committee and other legislators that the Oregon Revenue Forecast does not see Oregon headed for recovery before second quarter of 2011, after the next general election. This seems risky for the present majority to send out to the voters but there may be enough soft headed voters that will vote for such a tax who also believe Oregon will make a big difference in the big picture with climate change proposals.

Health Care Tax
The House Revenue Committee will hear HB 2116 May 28th as it pertains to raising revenue from your medical insurance premium and mine! A health insurance provider will be required to pay, quarterly, a surcharge by percentage of the gross amount of premiums derived from health benefit plans covering direct domestic risks. The insurance provider can not offset the assessment against corporate excise taxes and can not apply any portion of the assessment to the gross amount of premium. This tax imposed on the insurer is designed to protect, you and me, as the premium payer but we know from past experience the insurance industry will, in some manner, pass the cost on to you and me. This legislation is designed to provide medical insurance coverage for children that do not have coverage. Another example of “Big Government” getting into funding programs that could and should be provided by the private sector.

Transportation Tax
HB 2001, the Governors Jobs and Transportation Package passed out of the House May 27th with a vote of 38-22. There was something for everyone to love and hate in this legislation. However, TAO provided a floor letter, after asking multiple legislators to submit one, that pointed out the gas tax and fee increases that they would be voting for. TAO also pointed out that if they wanted to vote for these increases that they should maybe realize that “All these increased fees and taxes were on the backs of many Oregonians out of work (Over 12.1% statewide unemployment)??!!” and that “All this increased revenue, and the State reported a combined ending fund balance of $4.9 Billion of which 71.5% ($3.5 Billion) is available for spending??!!” and furthermore, “Ask YOURSELF, with proposed taxation on carbon dioxide, water, insurance premiums, corporations and individuals, and numerous agency fee increases, how much is enough??!!”

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Posted by at 05:59 | Posted in Measure 37 | 15 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Joe

    All of these proposals are good, well-thought out, and necessary for the health of Oregon’s economy. Without the state providing a life line for people out of work, what would happen to them?
    We need more help out here and the state is the best equipped to give it.
    If the rich would just give their fair share the poor would be better off.
    I am hoping all these things pass.
    We need to give the money to its righful owners, the hapless and the luckless who can not help it if they are wanting and needy.

    • Sybella

      Joe, how much is my fair share. is $30,000.00 enough? Is $10,000 enough? Is $100,000 enough?

      the rich give more than their fair share. You say the poor would be better off. Just who do you think makes the jobs for the poor? I bet you haven’t got a clue. Guess we just pick them off the tree.

      With the new tax laws I’m considered rich because I have a large gross sales in my business. After I pay for the product I sell and the wages for idiots like you, I have a profit, which is inventory purchased that hasn’t been sold. Tax law say’s that’s profit, sunshine it ain’t cash. I have less than $60,000 in income before taxes per year. Out of that I get to pay my personal taxes and the tax on the inventory on hand. For that, I work 7 days per year, when idiots like you take time off to go camping, playing, golfing, vacationing. Guess who fills their place for no pay. You’re wrong, it’s me.

      I really hope you win the agument that rich are taking advantage of poor. What are you going to do when the “rich” either close their businesses or just simply leave because of idiots like you who probably take more time off the job than the average bear. Trust me, I hire people like you.

  • John

    Hold on, they missed a few.

    New tax for blinking your eyes calculated on a monthly basis. Estimated yearly revenue for the state, 400 million annually.

    Breathing tax. Estimated yearly revenue for the state, 570 million.

    Walking tax. Estimated yearly revenue for the state, 17.375 billion.

    Talking tax. Estimated yearly revenue for the state, 175.3 billion.

    Dear God, when is it ever enough? How soon will it be before it is too expensive to live here and to continue doing business here.

  • gdonais

    I have to agree with John on this one, When will it ever be enough, Oregon needs to lower taxes to help our economy, but yet they wan to raise taxes again. Oregon is putting Oregon out of business and soon it will force people to move their business’s out of state. If that’s what Oregon wants, then go ahead and raise taxes. My advise, lower taxes will encourage more growth in the state, thus more revenue generated. Common logic

    • John

      Instead of reducing the size of the State government to lessen the burden on what few tax payers and business are left, the State continues to get more fat while the rest of us cut back. Not only that but, Kulongoski and the legislature are sacrificing living wage jobs for the so-called “green jobs” simply giving into the environmentalists who are really calling the shots in Salem.

      Where are the new jobs that were supposed to come from the stimulus money? Our infrastructure is falling apart and all the lawmakers do is raise taxes and drive business out of Oregon. I guess it’s more important to protect the environment then it is to create jobs. I wonder how much money our lawmakers are taking from the environmentalists lobbyists?

      Maybe it’s time for a massive investigation of the entire legislature.

      The hypocrites in Salem let 4 job bills die simply because the new jobs would harm the environment…..this is outrageous. It’s time the environmentalists get the hell out of our government and quit bribing the legislature for their own agenda that is costing us jobs.

      Maybe it’s time for a mass exodus. Continue raising the cost to do business in Oregon and there will be nothing left to stay here for. If I could get out of here I would.

      • Rupert in Springfield

        Sadly environmentalists aren’t going to get out of government any time soon. The environmental lobby makes the AARP look like a grass roots organization in terms of lobbying power. How do you think they get all those subsidies for their ridiculous projects? How do you think ridiculous things like cap and trade are even on the table with the current economy and with public opinion shifting away from it, at least in terms of people who identify as environmentalists?

        A lot of money rides on environmental legislation, and some fat cats are going to get really rich, at least until the economy really shuts down. Then they can start buying up your land as quickly as BO Co. bought up GM, for pennies on the dollar.

        Ever feel like you’re being cheated?

  • anonymous

    If these idiots in Salem think for one damned minute that right thinking folks are gonna stay here in Oregon and continue to put up with this crap they (politicians) are drunk.

    Washington St. with NO income taxes and Oregon just a hop step across the river for large purchase w/NO sales taxes (for now anyway) is where a migration of HUGE proportions should begin.

    Kulongoski is a moron, Courtney a lazy old man, and Dave Hunt a crazed punk. If this is the type of leadershio you crave, god help you.

  • Anonymous

    They are simply following California’s lead with ever expanding government and commitments that cannot be kept.

    It’s stunning really that the left can’t imagine a size of government that cannot be funded.

  • Terry Parker

    Lets tax all the hot air that comes out of the mouths of tax hungry – control hungry politicians. At a dollar a word, it should resolve the revenue problem.

  • dan

    no more taxes. I pay more in taxes than i do for rent, gas, food and beer combined!

    what do i see for it? nothing except waste

    expensive solar panels put on govt buildings, city govts paying too much for biofuels, 140,000 dollar solar powered toilets, govt agencies ran by expensive unions, and much more.

  • tlr

    As evidenced from the above article, the people we have sent to Salem are not doing their jobs.
    Any idiot can figure out how to raise someone else’s taxes.
    We want some real thinkers in Salem and we have failed, yet again, to elect them. Speak at the ballot box!

  • David from Eugene

    If you attended any of the public hearings Ways and Means held around Oregon you would have heard endless testimony supporting one program or another and no testimony advocating that a program to be cut. Given the overwhelming public support for existing programs the legislature’s decision to go for more taxes seems to be responsive to the desires of the public.

    I am very much aware that many of the regulars on The Oregon Catalyst are opposed to additional taxes, what I have not seen is a list of the specific programs they believe should be cut to balance the state budget. There are only two ways to balance the state budget, raise taxes or cut programs.

  • Jerry

    Dave – cut them all 50% and not a single person would notice the difference.
    Wake up.

    • David from Eugene


      I think the public would notice a 50% cross the board cut and more importantly so would individuals thinking of establishing or operating a business in Oregon. And after looking the resulting K-6 school system; no civil court system; increased crime caused by the release of half the convicts currently in state prison and a 50% reduction in State Police, Justice Department staff, the crime lab staff, parole and probation officers and public defenders; a greatly reduced criminal court system; a public college and university system with half the current enrollment; and few if any state parks I do not believe they would find Oregon a good place to start or run a business even with corporate taxes at half the current rate.

  • Linda in Salem

    Gee, in the Statesman Urinal today it reported about all the stimilus jobs being created ~ hummmm ~ Funding for road-maintenance & watershed-restoration projects through the Forest service / floodplain-easement projects through the Resources Conservation Service/ restoration of Oregon Sand Dunes, improvement of CoHo salmon habitat in Lane county/ restoration of forest fisheries in Douglas County ~ sounds like more government job creation to me. Where is the private sector job creation in this BIG stimilus package!!! Just MORE BIG GOVERNMENT SPENDING PAID FOR WITH MORE & MORE OF OUR TAX DOLLARS!!! I want a real job ~ I don’t want to work for or support more government jobs! It is ENOUGH already!!!

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