Image Courtesy of Vote Yes On 97

Propped for change: Measure 97 takes on Oregon’s corporate taxes

Oregon’s Measure 97 proposes increased corporate sales taxes in order to fund social services, affecting multiple aspects of the local economy. Students may have heard mumblings about consumer sales taxes and potential employers moving out of state, alongside counterarguments of improved public school funding and minimal effect on their favorite small businesses.
The text of the measure, according to ballotpedia.org, states: “Measure [97] increases annual minimum tax on corporations with Oregon sales of more than $25 million; imposes minimum tax of $30,001 plus 2.5% of amount of sales above $25 million … Revenue from tax increase goes to: public education (early childhood through grade 12); healthcare; services for senior citizens.”

Students have mixed feelings about the measure.

“I was 100% in favor of it but taking us from being the lowest-corporate-tax-burden state to middle-of-the-line-tax-burden state would probably make some companies leave, and way more companies not come to [Oregon], which based on my research would probably be a larger negative effect on state revenue than the tax’s increase,” said Patrick Varner ’19.

Indeed, Oregon currently has one of the lowest corporate sales taxes, around 6.6 percent compared to a national average of about 9.1 percent.

Others such as Emily de Lorimier ’17 argued that the potential benefits outweigh the costs.

I have heard that it will impact jobs,” said de Lorimier. “The estimate I’ve heard is [that] 800 jobs would be lost, because corporations said they’re gonna move business out of state – like I’ve heard Nike say that. It’s one of those things where it’s a corporation trying to cheat out of being taxed. I mean I’m voting yes on 97, because I feel like it will do more good than harm. All the taxes are also going to local school stuff.

Retired Professor Emeritus of Economics Martin Hart-Landsberg has been focusing on the details of Measure 97, aiming to address the concerns Oregonians have.

“Since it’s on sales in the state, if Nike moved out of state, and still wanted to sell the same amount of goods in the state, they would pay the same tax,” Hart-Landsberg said. “There’s no gain for them [to move].” His article published in Street Roots emphasized the need for such taxes to ease Oregon’s issues with the “fourth-worst high school graduation rates in the country, the third-largest class sizes and a school year that averages a full two weeks less than the minimum most states require,” in addition to the two-thirds of senior citizens living without personal retirement savings. For LC students originally from Oregon, or those who plan to stay after graduation, these are significant issues to consider.

“At the very least, it’s a very risky way of collecting money,” Varner said. On the other hand, De Lorimier was more optimistic while encouraging students to research and vote.

I like all of the economists that are picking it apart,” De Lorimier said. “That’s where I’ve been getting a lot of my information from, and this is my first real election cycle voting. So this is important.

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