Oregon Voters to Decide on Fate of Death Tax, Real Estate Transfer Taxes, and Corporate “Kickers”

Oregonians face a slate of tax issues that will determine the fate of billions of dollars over future years. Measures to repeal Oregon’s Death Tax and ban real estate transfer taxes could save taxpayers considerable sums, while a provision to eliminate corporate tax rebates or “kickers” would represent a $203 million tax hike.

With millions on the line in local tax measures alone, voters and taxpayers cannot afford to ignore the details of Oregon’s ballot initiatives, and our guide can help them tackle this hefty slate.

Death Tax Repeal: Since 2001, 31 states have repealed or modified their estate or inheritance taxes. On Election Day, Oregon has the chance to be the 32nd. Oregon’s death tax currently applies to estates as small as $1 million in value, which means it affects many small businesses and family farms. According to the Wall Street Journal, 8% of all death tax filings in Oregon are on estates worth less than $3 million. Measure 84 would phase out the tax over a three-year period.

Should Real Estate Transfers Be Taxed? In Oregon, only Washington County currently imposes a tax on real estate transfers. However, many fear that this could soon change as the state government and many localities look for additional sources of revenue. Measure 79 would constitutionally prohibit the state or a local government from imposing a new real estate transfer tax.

Should Oregon Kick “Kickers” to the Curb? Measure 85 would eliminate “kickers” for corporate taxpayers. These tax rebates are paid to individuals and corporations when tax revenues exceed expectations. Doing away with the corporate kicker is the equivalent of raising taxes by up to $203 million per year.

Local Governments Look to Raise Taxes: Voters across Oregon will weigh in on measures to increase taxes and issue millions of dollars in new debt.

    • In Medford, a ballot question would issue $14.5 million in debt and authorize an accompanying property tax increase to build new pools.

    • Portland voters will consider a new “Arts Tax,” which would cost every resident over the age of 18 and above the poverty line $35.

    • Residents in Benton, Douglas, and Jefferson Counties as well as many other jurisdictions in Oregon will consider tax increases or renewals.

Stay tuned for more on the major state ballot initiatives this election season, and visit our 2012 Ballot Guide page HERE to find your state’s complete slate of propositions, questions, amendments and more.