Whose Money Is Your Oregon Kicker Refund?

By Steve Buckstein and Kathryn Hickok

State economists have confirmed that individual Oregon income taxpayers will receive kicker refunds next year. Based on the May revenue forecast, more than $463 million will be returned to taxpayers as a credit on their 2018 tax bills, with the average refund being $227.

But with the news that the coming refunds will reduce our tax liabilities, some are criticizing the way the kicker law works, while others argue the money really belongs to the state, not the taxpayers. They argue that as long as any group of Oregonians—or any state government budget item—has a “need” for that money, then the money should go to them instead of back to the individuals who earned it.

Whether the kicker law is good or bad public policy doesn’t change the answer to a more fundamental question: Whose money is it? Is the kicker a rebate for overpaying your taxes or is it somehow the State of Oregon’s money, better left in government coffers? If we can find a better way to restrain runaway government spending, we should do so. But until that day arrives, Oregon’s kicker law is one defense against those who argue that some of the money you earned belongs to someone else just because they “need” it.

Steve Buckstein is Senior Policy Analyst and Founder at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization. Kathryn Hickok is Publications Director at Cascade.

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  • Oregon Engineer

    From each according to his ability, to each according to his need. has never in history worked. Every time it has been tried it has failed, spectacularly. The Plymouth colony tried and almost starved to death. the USSR tried it failed spectacularly. The people in Oregon that think “need” is the only reason, have no clue about history or economics. They are are moochers no better than the bums on the corners begging because they “need ” money. I can think of no reason other than returning the funds to the producers from whom the state stole the money is the right thing to do.

    • SunshineandFleurs

      From each according to his ability – ha! There are welfare queens with plenty of “ability”.

  • rbdthnfngfnh

    All of it belongs to tax payers.

  • SunshineandFleurs

    Agency heads have NO INCENTIVE to cut budgets. Not really.
    No one goes to their agencies. The public may call, but they can easily be appeased.
    Agency heads are the worst public employees. They KNOW that budgets can be cut and they even know where to cut the budgets, but why would they?
    They are comfortable in their offices where no one can put them on the spot.