Business alarmed: Statewide property tax bill taxes inventory

By Oregon Small Business Association,

Small businesses in Oregon are alarmed over a surprise tax bill emerging quickly in the 2024 Oregon Legislative Special Session that would directly impact businesses.  House Joint Resolution 201 would create a statewide property tax and allow a new taxing authority controlled by State Lawmaker to raise property taxes.

In doing so, the bill crafters snuck in a tax on businesses by including “personal property” taxes and “intangibles” taxes. The bill reads, “The Legislative Assembly shall impose by law a state property tax on all real property and all personal property, tangible and intangible …”  This opens up all kinds of new taxes on business personal property (inventory, office equipment, office supplies, office software, intellectual property).   The personal property tax upon businesses is one of the most complex and time-consuming taxes that businesses pay.   Increasing this tax would prove to be a nightmare for small businesses that have t pay it.

That is just the start of problems with HJR 201.   By raising property taxes in Oregon on a statewide level, commercial property taxes would skyrocket every time they raise property taxes.  Right now, commercial property in Portland is facing rampant office vacancies — some at historic highs.   Some of the largest office buildings in Portland are 30% to 50% empty.  Raising taxes on empty buildings is a blow to businesses during this terrible difficult season for Oregon businesses for which many expect will take years to return to normal.

House Joint Resolution 201 summary text:

  “Proposes an amendment to the Oregon Constitution requiring the Legislative Assembly to create an administrative authority for funding public safety in this state. Directs the Legislative Assembly to impose a state property tax to fund public safety in this state. Allows the Legislative Assembly to delegate to the administrative authority the authority to implement the tax. Provides that the tax would not be subject to Article XI, section 11, of the Oregon Constitution (Ballot Measure 50) (1997), or Article XI, section 11b, of the Oregon Constitution (Ballot Measure 5) (1990). ”

Lawmakers would be wise to reject this tax outright:


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