BY NIGEL JAQUISS
What a way to start the new year.
We get to vote on raising taxes. Twice, actually.
Oregon voters will soon receive ballots asking them to vote on Measure 66, which would raise personal income taxes on the highest-income Oregonians, and Measure 67, which would increase corporate income taxes.
The Democratic-controlled Legislature already approved the tax hikes in 2009, but opponents then gathered enough signatures to put them on the ballot for voters to decide.
Tax policy is thorny. It’s never so simple as “taxes are good as long as someone else pays them.” In fact, if you take a close look at this state’s tax structure, you will often see a reflection of our collective psyche. Nothing speaks to the stubborn individualism of Oregon quite like our continued refusal to adopt a sales tax, for example.
To dispel some of the overheated rhetoric surrounding the tax hikes, here’s a look at how we got here and what our collective response to Measures 66 and 67 may say about Oregonians as we enter a new decade.
Oh, and WW’s editorial board also tells you at the end how we think you should vote.
What would Measure 66 do?
It would raise the state income tax rate from 9 percent to 10.8 percent on an individual’s personal income between $125,000 and $250,000, and to 11 percent on every dollar above $250,000. The measure would also eliminate the state income tax on the first $2,400 of unemployment income. The Legislative Revenue Office, which crunches numbers for lawmakers, projects fewer than 3 percent of Oregonians would pay this increased tax—that’s why some people call the measure “class warfare.”
How about Measure 67?
Measure 67 is a lot more complicated. First, corporations with no taxable income now pay a minimum $10 tax. This measure would raise the minimum to $150. It would also raise the corporate income tax rate on companies with profits to 7.9 percent, compared to the current 6.6 percent. This measure would do something completely new, as well: It would create a new tax on companies with more than $500,000 in annual sales but no taxable profits. All companies would pay the new minimum tax or the 7.9 percent tax on profits, whichever is higher.
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