Oregon Tax Bill Rises at Local Level, Property.

By Oregon Tax News,

Often overlooked, smaller tax increases will be facing thousands of Oregon homeowners, in addition to possible new taxes in Multnomah County, Hood River and Ashland.

Recent local proposals include an extension of the Ashland meals tax, along with increased driver registration fees and higher property taxes in Multnomah County.   Some local cities, like Hood River, will be wrestling with a local gas tax increase. These smaller taxes have lost attention in light of the much larger $733 million Oregon tax referendum measures approaching the January ballot.

Property Tax Increases despite recession, home value drop

Despite a recession and declining property values, homeowners will see property tax bills rise.  In Multnomah County property owners will see their property taxes jump six percent, allowing the county to collect $1.2 billion in new revenue.  The bulk of the money will go toward Portland’s public schools, city services, and county programs.  Metro, the region’s planning agency, will receive $21 million.  Following suit with Multnomah County, taxpayers in Linn County will see about a four percent hike from last year according to Linn County Assessor Mark Noakes.

Multnomah County Registration Fee

In addition to higher property taxes, Multnomah County also established a new county registration fee of $19 a year.  The fee will be tacked onto the state fee that drivers in Oregon pay every two years.  In total, the tax will raise $127 million over 20 years and be used to rebuild the Multnomah Bridge.  While commissioners worried about proposing a new fee during difficult economic times, they successfully lobbied the state legislature for approval.  Clackamas County will consider a five dollar local motor vehicle fee next year in an effort to help finance the project.  If they are successful Clackamas County would contribute roughly $22 million toward the project even though their residents account for nearly 75 percent of the bridge’s traffic.

Ashland Meals Tax extension

Vehicles are not the only means of raising revenue.  In November, Ashland residents will decide on extending Ashland’s five percent food and beverage tax until 2030.  Eighty percent of the funds collected are used to pay the existing debt on the city’s wastewater treatment plant.  The remaining 20 percent is used to acquire open space to build city parks.  If voters choose not to extend the tax residents would likely see higher sewer bills in order to meet the cities debt obligations.

The $733 Million tax ballot measures

The State Legislature approved two tax measures that would raise $733 million to fund state services.  However, business leaders and citizen advocates have organized a group called Oregonians Against Job-Killing Taxes and have succeeded in submitting enough valid signatures in order to refer the tax increases to Oregon voters during a special statewide election that will be held on January 26, 2010.

The proposed measures would permanently increase taxes on corporate and personal income.  Measure 67 would increase the minimum tax corporations pay annually from $10 to $150.  It also imposes a brand new tax based off a company’s sales in Oregon.  The tax is on a sliding scale that ranges anywhere from $150 to $100,000.  Tax rates on businesses making more than $250,000 would also rise from 6.6 percent to 7.9 percent.  The rate would last for two years, drop to 7.6 percent, then return to 6.6 percent for most corporations.  Beginning in 2013 money collected above the 6.6 percent rate will be set aside in a newly established reserve fund.

Oregonians earning $125,000 and joint filers earning between $250,000 and 500,000 will see their tax rate jump from the current nine percent tax rate to 10.8 percent if Ballot Measure 66 is approved.  Those earning more than $500,000 will pay 11 percent.

The proposed taxes and fees across the state demonstrate lawmakers’ reliance on the private sector to solve the budget crisis in Oregon and in some instances voters will have the final say.

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