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Report: Shrinking Corporate Taxes in Ore. Bad News for Schools

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The share of income taxes paid by corporations in Oregon has fallen from 18.5 percent to 6.7 percent since the mid-1970s. (pixabay)
The share of income taxes paid by corporations in Oregon has fallen from 18.5 percent to 6.7 percent since the mid-1970s. (pixabay)
June 29, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The share of taxes Oregon collects from corporations has dropped significantly over the last four decades.

According to a report released today by the Oregon Center for Public Policy, the corporate share of income taxes in the mid-1970s was more than 18 percent -- but today it's less than 7 percent.

Juan Carlos Ordonez, communications director for the Oregon Center for Public Policy, said the state has not yet come up with a way to fill the budget hole left by lower taxes on corporations.

"Oregon has one of the nation's most crowded classrooms, shorter school years, and there's a great deal of need," he said, "and it's certainly, to some extent, the burden being shifted to families and individuals, but also just a hole not being filled."

Ordonez said a number of policies have led to the sharp decline in taxes collected from corporations. For instance, according to the report, before 1980 there were nine federal and state tax breaks available for corporations. Today there are 51.

The tax rate for corporations could change this November, however. On this year's ballot is the Business Tax Increase Initiative, which would raise the rate to 2.5 percent on corporations with incomes that exceed $25 million per year. According to Oregon's Legislative Revenue Office, the measure would net the state $3 billion a year. Ordonez said that money would be a much-needed windfall for Oregon's underfunded state services.

"It would go a long way in filling the needs of our K-through-12 schools and putting in resources to work for addressing the needs of our seniors and other important needs for our state," he said.

The report cited two different studies that show Oregon has the lowest effective tax rate in the country for businesses.

The report is online at OCPP.org. The Oregon Business Tax Initiative is at oregonvotes.org.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR