OPB tries to invade business privacy

City says OPB can’t take a peek at business tax records

By Taxpayers Association of Oregon Foundation,

We are big supporters of government transparency and strong supporters of Oregon’s public records laws. But, we draw the line at the release of businesses’ sensitive financial information.

An OPB reporter asked for detailed records of which companies are paying Portland’s so-called “Clean Energy” tax on sales, and how much they are paying. The city refused to release the records, but Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt ruled that the records must be turned over. That decision forced the city to sue OPB and the reporter to reverse the DAs decision.

The City of Portland is on the right side of this issue. If OPB got those records, then everyone would know confidential financial information about hundreds of retailers doing business in Portland. Information like the retailers revenues and sources of revenues. That’s information that can be used by these companies’ competitors to undercut their business.  The information can also be used by tax-and-spend activists to claim that some company isn’t paying its “fair share” in a play to raise taxes even more.  Once business income privacy is breached, the next step by activists would be to strip away income privacy from citizens.

We applaud the City of Portland for standing up for the city’s businesses this one time.