Taxpayers Assoc. turns 25! (History of Oregon’s Tax Revolt)

(Photo: TAO co-Founder, Don McIntire, in his earlier days (1990) campaigning fro Measure 5 which cut your property taxes 40%. (right) TAO co-founder, Jason Williams, at a Measure 30 petition drive to defeat the billion-dollar income tax.  This cut your income taxes by 10%)
By Taxpayers Association of Oregon

Here is a history of Taxpayers Association’s involvement in Oregon’s Tax Revolt:

The Man Who Help Start Oregon’s Tax Revolt

Before citizen activist Don McIntire came on the scene in 1990, property taxes could be as high as politicians wanted—with no limits.    Then McIntire put Measure 5 on the ballot in 1990.  It not only cut Oregonians’ property taxes, but it locked these cuts into the state Constitution with strict caps so politicians could not circumvent them.

Measure 5 sent shockwaves through Oregon. As Wikipedia notes, Measure 5 started the Oregon Tax Revolt, which resulted in nearly two decades of other tax-cutting and tax limiting ballot measures being passed or proposed on the Oregon ballot.

As a result of McIntire’s Measure 5, your property taxes are now 40 percent lower than they would be. Almost every year since its passage, Oregonians call the Taxpayers Association to say if not for Don McIntire and Measure 5, they could not afford to live in their homes today.


In 1999, Jason Williams reached out to McIntire to form the Taxpayers Association of Oregon and then the Foundation soon after. Oregon hasn’t been the same since TAO’s founding.


Post-September 11th Tax Battles


One of the earliest battles the Taxpayers Association faced was helping to protect Oregon taxpayers from a wave of ill-timed and heartless tax increases just after September 11th terrorist attacks.  On September 11, 2001, terrorists brutally attacked the United States, crippling air travel, triggering a stock crash, and adding to a recession in progress. Americans were afraid, and they stopped spending. Tax revenues declined. Oregon politicians responded by putting a $700 million dollar income tax increase on the ballot (Measure 28). The Taxpayers Association led the charge against Measure 28 and defeated the proposed income tax increase at the ballot box.

Oregon’s tax-hungry politicians were not done. They responded to voters saying no by simply passing another $700 million tax increase anyway—this time without asking Oregon voters for approval. But Jason Williams and the Taxpayers Association were not done either. Williams became the co-chief petitioner on a voter petition to repeal the Legislature’s tax grab. As a result, voters rejected the near billion dollar tax hike.  Just as Don McIntire’s Measure 5 saved Oregon taxpayers 40 percent on their property taxes, Williams’ Measure 30 referendum saved them 10 percent on their state income taxes.

(Photo: Jason Williams as co-chief petitioner helps load over 100,000 signatures for the Measure 30 which helped defeat the near-billion dollar tax increase. The other co-chief petitioner, Russ Walker, is in the middle)

Politicians Pass Sales Taxes without a Public Vote


Oregon voters have rejected a sales tax proposal not once, not twice, but nine times. In 1993, McIntire worked on the campaign to defeat the final statewide sales tax measure (Measure 1, a 5% sales tax).  Despite voters rejecting a sales tax nine times, the big government lobby decided to be sneakier by quietly passing sales taxes at the local level—all without giving voters a say. Both Wood Village and Ontario passed sales taxes without a public vote. TAO responded both times by launching petition drives that led to revocation of these two sales taxes.  TAO also fought against the Grants Pass sales tax (2017) and Josephine County sales tax (2022).


We defended the people’s Kicker Income Tax Refund for 25 years. 


 In 2002, we ran this TV ad (above) blasting Governor Kitzhaber on the Kicker. Recently as 2024, Oregon taxpayers saw an average $1,100 Kicker Income Tax Refund.  Politicians complain when over-collected surplus funds are returned back to taxpayers.  Yet, when politicians returned the 2024 surplus, they still hand enough tax revenue to grow the State Budget by 17% without it.   This is why TAO is there testifying at every Kicker theft hearing, because without the Kicker Law you would have lost $1,100 and the State budget may have grown by as much as 30%.   (over)


It’s More Than Taxes … It’s Also Government Spending


Knocking down proposed tax increases is simply not enough. From the start, TAO worked to address the taxoholism’s root cause: out-of-control spending.  In 2000, McIntire qualified Measure 8 for the November ballot which put a simple 15% limit on government spending.

Government employee unions panicked and spent an avalanche of money to defeat the measure. They prevailed, but we didn’t stop.

Five years later, we returned with a new spending limit measure (Measure 48) —which would limit spending and put funds above the limit into a Rainy Day fund for emergencies (so politicians don’t raise taxes after a disaster or a September 11th).  Unions spent a staggering four million dollars to defeat the measure. Even though our measure failed, legislators took notice of our Rainy Day fund portion of our measure and within eight short months later passed Oregon’s first-ever Rainy Day Fund. It still exists to this day.


Make Public Employees’ Salaries … Public

Early on, TAO authored a bill requiring the state to publish a book listing all state employees, their duties, and their salaries. At the legislative hearing on our bill, critics laughed at the idea, saying it would be impossible to accomplish as no book could possibly contain all this data. Years later, however, our proposal became a reality, thanks to the internet. Since then, this statewide database has become a favorite reference for the Oregon media and the general public.

(Photo: Jason Williams brings banner of postcard opposing Portland’s cell-phone tax, 2006, the tax was defeated)

From Sales Taxes to Cell-phone Taxes


Once cell-phones became universal cities in Oregon saw a rich opportunity to loot their taxpayers. TAO, however, was on the case. Ultimately, we helped defeat cell-phone taxes in Corvallis, Keizer, North Plains, and Portland. After these defeats, cities stopped trying to pass local cell phone taxes.

Unprecedented Riots


When riots broke out, the level of violence and destruction was history-making. We had to investigate. On a given night, the media would simply repeat the nice-sounding political talking points of protestors, calling for reforms  whereas we heard (and reported) on their calls to harm police officers, threaten elected officials, abolish prisons, dismantle capitalism, abolish borders, and burn things down.  The media portrayed protestors as victimized minorities protesting against injustice, but we saw very few minorities at all in attendance at the nightly riots and instead saw mostly young white student-aged men in masks vandalizing minority-owned small businesses, yelling racial slurs at black police officers and even destroying public African American statues/artwork.  These masked rioters were also from out of state, as criminal thrill-seekers flew in from across America upon hearing they could come to Oregon and freely destroy things without fear of getting caught.

(Photo: One of the interesting photos TAO captured was when rioters vandalized the Oregon Historical Society with the words “No more history” (top left) and “End Oregon”.  They also tried to burn down the museum.)

In order to report on the Seattle CHAZ and the Portland Red House occupied zone where rioters overtook entire city blocks for days, TAO had to walk through checkpoints with their own armed guards and huge barricades of trash.  Several reporters and observers critical of the riots were violently accosted, stabbed, or beaten bloody on the street while the crowd cheered. Being so close to the events also meant being hit with tear gas, which is very debilitating. TAO archives all its riot reporting and original photography that you will not see anywhere else on the website OregonWatchdog.

Becoming a Media Leader

People have no idea what local political events or news stories they are missing unless they spend an hour every single day visiting all the Oregon TV, radio, and media websites. We spend that hour searching those sites, so you do not have to. OregonWatchdog compiles the local political news from all the key political news websites and puts them in a simple top 20 list every morning.  This is why our readers are the smartest voters in Oregon.

After establishing OregonWatchdog, TAO created the websites Oregon Tax News and then Oregon Catalyst, which draw a million views a year.

Times Change

(photo: Tom Butler)

Sadly, McIntire passed away in 2012 and missed some of our successes.  Former State Representative and Budget Committee Chair Tom Butler stepped up to continue McIntire’s legacy as the new president.  Because Butler is from Ontario, about as far east as you can go in Oregon, his leadership added the voice of rural Oregonians to the Taxpayers Association activities (in addition to helping us kill the Ontario sales tax).   As for co-founder Jason Williams, he still remains Executive Director as 25 years of doing this has made him unprepared and unfit for any other job or life.  Williams says “I am eternally grateful for our supporters and to the good God above for these nearly three decades of extraordinary experiences in the fight for liberty.”

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