Tax measures demystified

The Byline’s Marissa Woltanski explains why she believes the Rogue Valley should be celebrating the passing of tax measures 66 and 67

BY MARISSA WOLTANSKI
BYLINE STAFF

Measures 66 and 67 passed in the state of Oregon on January 26. While I voted yes on both measures, my fellow Southern Oregon residents, for the most part, did not agree with me. Looking at the map county by county, the measures more or less only passed in the Willamette Valley-Multnomah County part of the state.

Our legislature worked very hard to create a fair budget, and measures 66 and 67 were the best option to fulfill the revenue needs of the state.

You should never vote on an issue based solely on campaign ads, but I do think it’s important to evaluate what’s being said by both sides in their campaign.

Both sides of the issue were guilty of outright lies or lies of omission. Enter Ad Watch, a non-partisan look at campaign ads brought to you by The Oregonian, which I highly recommend during any election.

Take for example the “Measures 66 & 67 will hurt small businesses,” an ad paid for by Oregonians Against Job-Killing Taxes. By far the cheesiest of all the 66 and 67 ads, this ad is staged in a bakery. According to the Oregonian, “A bakery of this kind is unlikely to have a major tax impact from 66 or 67. Small businesses are typically organized as sole proprietorships or other kinds of business entities that would face a corporate minimum tax of $150 a year. The Oregonian goes on to say, “The ad also implies the bakery faces a 40 percent increase in taxes. Revenue raised by corporate income taxes will indeed rise that much. But most Oregon businesses pay personal income taxes; they would not face an increase anywhere near that magnitude.”

If taxes really killed businesses and jobs, Google, eBay, American Apparel, and Apple — all large corporations with international presences — would not be headquartered in the state of California, a state that is by no means a tax shelter.

According to the Mail Tribune, “Under Measure 66, a projected 38,000 Oregon households, about 1,728 in Jackson County, will be affected by the increase in personal income taxes.”
The Oregonian created a tax calculator to help people figure out what kind of new taxes they may be looking at under measure 66. I entered my taxable income, filing individually at $160,000, just to see what it would say.  According to the calculator, I would pay approximately  $630 in taxes in addition to what I would already be paying.

This calculator is by no means exact. Depending on specific circumstances, I could pay more or less on my taxes, but it’s a good tool to give me a general representation of what those 38,000 Oregon households might be dealing with.

Not to minimize the plight of those pulling down six figures annually, but that’s not exactly the financial straw that broke the really rich camels back.

Those against the measure told us that those affected by the measures would up and leave the state rather than pay any additional taxes. I refuse to believe that this tax increase would be enough to make an individual leave.

It’s definitely a possibility, more so with measure 67. But again, according to the Mail Tribune, “there are nearly 34,000 C-corporations in the state. Fewer than 10,000 of those will pay more than the $150 corporate minimum tax in 2009… 24,000 other C-corporations will pay one of two tax rates, whichever is more: .1 percent of gross sales, or 6.6 percent of Oregon taxable income under $250,000 and 7.9 percent of Oregon taxable income greater than $250,000.”

I’m disinclined to believe that 24,000 companies will pack up and leave the state. Where are they going to go?

I’ve been raised as a fairly staunch liberal — State Representative Dennis Richardson might go so far as to call me a Socialist, and he would probably be right. I believe in the inherent goodness of human beings. I feel it’s our responsibility to care for our fellow man, woman, and child. I feel it is my responsibility as much as that of higher earners to support my community with my tax dollars.

If I land a job that put me into this tax bracket tomorrow, I would gladly pay these taxes, particularly since Oregon has no other option.

If 66 and 67 had failed, our educational system from K-12 to higher ed would have taken a huge hit.

I do believe a good education is the key to a better future. We cannot expect to improve our economy, our quality of life, or our global standing if we do not invest in education. American children trail almost every industrialized nation in the world in academics. How can we ever expect them to catch up if we continue to short change them?

The Oregon tax code does need to be restructured, and we do need to find a more permanent fix to Oregon’s funding needs. But if we allow vital needs like education and human services to go unmet we will never be able to repair our current system.

By no means do I fall into the affected income bracket, but I’d like to believe if I ever did qualify for these taxes, that I would pay them without whining, because they go towards the greater good.

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