Senator Atkinson: Plan to stop taxing the unemployed

Atkinson will re-introduce legislation to end taxation of the unemployed
By State Senator Jason Atkinon,

Salem — Senator Jason Atkinson (R-Central Point) will again introduce legislation in the 2010 legislative special session to eliminate the taxation of unemployment benefits. The bill is similar to a bill Atkinson introduced in 2009, which would give unemployed Oregonians their first $2,400 of unemployment benefits tax free. “Taxing someone who doesn’t have a job is like kicking them when they’re down,” said Atkinson. “Oregon continues to have one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. Those looking for work don’t deserve to have their unemployment benefits taxed. The least government can do is wait until they can find a job.”

The legislation would follow the federal government’s lead and end taxation of an individual’s first $2,400 in unemployment compensation. Congress ended the taxation of initial unemployment benefits as part of the economic stimulus package past in February.

“Unemployed Oregonians need to know that someone is on their side,” said Aktinson. “If we really want to create jobs and get Oregonians back to work, we need to stop taxing their unemployment benefits.”

Currently, Oregon taxes the first $2,400 of unemployment compensation on a sliding scale, depending on an individual’s taxable income. Most Oregonians collecting unemployment compensation are taxed at the top rate of 9%.

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  • Moe

    The unemployed should pay taxes just like everyone else.
    They get free money for 99 weeks.
    Come on.

    • Paul

      Well Moe, I guess you have never looked at your pay check and noticed the deductions. The money for the unemployment comes from YOU. So you think you should be taxed twice on money you earned? I don’t think so. Sen. Atkinson is looking out for the people who have lost their jobs in this Democratic Party run state. It is so unfair to tax this pittance. The recipient is out of a job and needing to making ends meet until he can find work again. He need every penny. The state shouldn’t tax this money, he earned it. Let them find ways to use the money they have more wisely. We all have to live within our means, let the state do the same thing.
      Thanks Sen. Atkinson

      • anonymous2

        Pardon me Paul, but dosen’t the employer pay for unemployment insurance? Which item on an employee’s pay stub is unemployment?

        • Moi

          We still have to pay the taxes on the first pay check, why should you pay a second time – especially when we are in a recession. Its ridiculous!!!

          Way to go Senator Atkinson – You Rock!!!
          Maybe you should run for something…like governor!?!

    • Sybella

      Actually the employer pays the unemployment tax.

      In the eighties unemployment was taxed only to those who made a specific amount of money during the year. Then only half of it was taxed. This saved those who really didn’t have the money and did tax those who made more. Then the government decided, correctly so that unemployment was in lieu of wages. Then becoming 100% taxable.

      When I was preparing returns in the eighties, it seemed to be fair. But then as we all know fairness is in the eye of the beholder.

    • David Appell

      “Free money?” Isn’t this money taken out of their paychecks during the time in which they were employed?

      Where exactly do you think this money comes from?

      • Anonymous

        ‘Where exactly do you think this money comes from?’

        The money comes out of the Employers account. Employees DO NOT contribute towards UI!!!

        C’mon David ask me what is “UI”

  • John Fairplay

    It is a myth that your employer pays anything for you. The cost of unemployment insurance comes right out of your hide in the form of wages or benefits you don’t receive because the money is mandated to be spent on unemployment insurance.


      Please show me any companies employment manual that stipulates that ‘The cost of unemployment insurance comes right out of your hide in the form of wages or benefits’…

      I understand your point, however! It’s the same thing as those who think that Corporations pay taxes. Corps might write the check alright but in the end it’s the consumer who pays.

    • Sybella

      You are absolutely correct John.

      Any time the Government mandates an expense to a company, it comes from somewhere, not directly deducted, but the more we have to pay the government, the less we have left for the employee.

      Sadly, neither the government nor the employee realizes that.

      I guess I have a bad attitude, I didn’t give birth to my employees, I have nofurther obligation to support them than to pay them for the time they put in. Hopefully the time they put in gives me back return in labor.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    This is the most absurd bill I have ever heard of in my life.

    I would submit that if Salem is saying they are going raise taxes on business that suffers a loss, but then end taxes on those who collect unemployment, they will be sending on hell of a message:

    If you struggle to keep your business going through bad times rather go on unemployment, we will raise your taxes. If you give up, shut down your business and go on unemployment, we will give you a tax break.

    In light of the current tax raises it would be hard to think of a less constructive message to come out of Salem should this pass.

    The war on prosperity continues.


      Unemployment taxes on Employers is going UP dramatically in 2010. I mean DRAMATICALLY!

  • Oregonian

    Um, isn’t this included in the ballot measure up for a vote on January 26? I’m pretty damn sure it is. Well, Jason, since you’re planning to introduce it anyway, why not just go out and campaign hard to pass 66/67?

    • Moi

      I will ask you the same thing I asked Congressman Wu, ” Have you read the Bill?”

  • Moe

    Just remember how well things turned out for the auto companies when they paid people for not working.

  • Anonymous

    Frankly it disgusts me that ANY fiscal conservative Republican would oppose this. This is a tax cut. I support tax cuts for everybody. And when it isn’t possible to cut everyone’s taxes, I support cutting taxes for some – as long as no taxes are raised elsewhere.

    Further, every selective tax cut is a tool to steer policy. Usually, selective tax cuts in Oregon are for liberal causes like green jobs, environmental protection, etc. – causes that tend to have a net negative effect as they harm the overall economy. Here, this is a tax cut that is actually targeted at people in need, and the net result will mean helping people who might lose their homes or cars. That’s GOOD for the economy.

    Anyone opposing this idea has no claim to fiscal conservatism.