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60 Minutes: WA tax measure and fleeing Portland business

November 2, 2010

This weekend, national news magazine 60 Minutes aired a segment about taxing the rich. The story included a lot of attention on Washington’s Income Tax on High Earners Measure 1098 and also a cameo from a former businessman who fled Portland to escape Oregon’s tax climate.

Text highlight of ex-Portland businessman portion of the video:

Adam Stites is another entrepreneur who opposes the initiative. Five years ago he moved his company, iStores, from Portland, Ore. across the Columbia River, to Vancouver, Wash., just nine miles away.  “It broke down to taxes,” Stites explained. “Oregon has the highest income tax in the United States, and Washington has the lowest at zero percent.”  iStores is the largest online retailer of paint ball equipment.   Stites has been hiring new staff for a new company he acquired that sells prank novelties. Under the new tax, he would have to pay $50,000 a year and that, he says, would hamper his ability to expand any further.

“This money, if it passes, will go specifically to education, ’cause they’ve been cutting schools and things like that. So what is Washington State supposed to do about its schools in terms of revenue?” Stahl asked Stites.

“I think the state, in aggregate, needs to take a look at its expenses,” he replied.

“Like?” Stahl asked.

“I’ve had opportunity in Portland to see cars being washed by third party – washing firms, cleaning cars on the weekends, for state vehicles. I don’t have someone who cleans my car in a van, and waxes…,” Stites said.

When Stahl pointed out that’s in Portland, Stites said, “It’s in Portland, but I think it’s indicative of government spending.”

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Discuss this article

Guy Alvis November 5, 2010

Did you do any fact-checking on information before posting it?

Better yet, did 60 Minutes?

According to “2011 State Business Tax Climate Index” at
Oregon ranks #14, right behind #13 Texas and only 3 spots behind #11 Washington in business friendly taxation.

According to Wikipedia, “As of May of 2009, both Oregon and Hawaii have the highest rates of state income tax, with a maximum rate of 11%.” However, but
shows Hawaii’s highest rate (11%) kicking in at $200,000 and Oregon at $250,000.

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