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Report: Oregon Loses $175 Million a Year to Corporate Tax Loopholes

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Oregon faces a $623 million shortfall its current budget cycle. (Edmund Garman/Flickr)
Oregon faces a $623 million shortfall its current budget cycle. (Edmund Garman/Flickr)
January 18, 2019

SALEM, Ore. – With the Oregon legislative session set to begin next week, a new report explores how the state could capture more tax revenue from large corporations.

The report, authored by consumer and business groups, says Oregon loses $175 million a year through corporate tax avoidance, largely the use offshore tax havens.

Report co-author Nathan Proctor with the U.S. Public Interest Research Group says states could enact what's known as "complete reporting" to get lost revenue back, which would require companies to report total, global profits and the portions of their business done in a given state.

Otherwise, he believes, companies will do what they can to avoid paying their fair share.

"The more complicated a company is, the more opportunities it has to decide for itself where it wants to attribute its profits,” says Proctor. “And this has been a problem for a long time that states have had – to fairly and adequately and equitably tax large, complex companies."

Oregon faces a $623 million shortfall in its current two-year budget cycle. The report finds corporate tax loopholes cost states a combined $17 billion a year.

Otto Schell, legislative director of the Oregon Parent Teacher Association, says the lost revenue is wreaking havoc on the state's education budget, and kids end up paying for it.

"How does that play out? Well, we have among the largest class size in the nation,” says Schell. “We know that impacts kids, particularly in the younger grades. We have one of the shortest school years."

Mark Kellenbeck, co-chair of Main Street Alliance of Oregon, says small businesses often have to pick up the difference when large companies don't pay what they owe.

"Oregon is really a small business state, so you'd want small business, I think as a public policy, to thrive and have equal opportunity,” says Kellenbeck. “And this is one place where that just doesn't occur."

The Oregon Legislature begins on Tuesday.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR