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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Portland arts tax: No forms until April 1

It's nuts. The City of Portland passes an arts tax in November, retroactive to the first of the year, and here it is the following Feb. 21 and there's still no way to file the required return or pay the tax. And KATU, which scraped up what few tidbits of information are available, says the actual mail-in forms won't be ready until April 1 -- although they'll be due back with money just two weeks later:

According to the Revenue Bureau, the Arts Tax payment site should up and running by March 4. It hopes most people pay the tax online, saving resources and restoring school arts programs at the same time.

The bureau expects most people to pay the tax online, because it says three out of four homes in Portland have Internet access.

While payment forms will be mailed April 1, if you pay online before then, the city won't have to send one.

The tax appears to us to be an unconstitutional head tax, and it will surely be challenged in court on those grounds (and who knows, maybe some others). That litigation could take many months -- years even. The collective nervous breakdown of the city under the Sam Rands is not over.

Comments (28)

"The bureau expects most people to pay the tax online, because it says 3/4 in Portland have internet"

Surely that is a joke! The have an existing online system to handle combined tax filings for business and I would be shocked if the usage was greater than 20% of all tax due returns filed.

What is the penalty for not paying this illegal tax?

In Portlandia, everyone is always on line all the time, walks or bikes every where and paints birds on things.
Maybe we should let the crows run city hall. Those are smart birds!

The PDX revenue guy in our yearly tax update said a postcard directing people to a website would be sent out in Feb and that if they did not bite on that a letter would be mailed out later.

He said the penalty was 100% of the tax. So $70.00. It is a tax that a family of four, with two kids over 18 in the house (if they have a nickel of income,) would have to pay $140.00 a year and if they do not pay that would mean $280.00...

Anyone know of anyone actually challenging this? I'm concerned that while many complain, no one will actually step up to the plate.

This being the city, the penalties for refusing will no doubt be immediate and severe. They'll probably tack the penalties onto the water bill or something.

Nickel and dime city. And our voters don't realize they're ushering in death by paper cuts. In our immediate future: a new park levy. Followed by?

Oh, so a family of four just has to cough up $140. no sweat right?
I do not think it is the city's business to know how many people live in a household or what their income is!
I believe that this will make many people feel very negatively towards artists, in other words a negative pallor over the arts. I can envision it now at art fairs, people wanting to buy some ceramics or a drawing and no, they had to spend their discretionary money for the head tax!! In the final analysis, this may hurt these individual artists,
but be good for art organizations and those who administer.

Thanks for that information, everyone. I certainly intend to make it as expensive and inconvenient for the city as possible. I'll wait for their letter and pay by check.

This will probably keep being pushed out to some vague future date as long as it takes to figure out some way to wiggle around the unconstitutionality of it. (Or until the legislature passes a bill to make it legal).

I'm hoping the courts put a quick smack-down on this for many reasons, but most importantly, how is $35 per worker is going to "put arts and music teachers back in every elementary school", especially when half of the $35 goes to other arts organizations, right?

I'm worried that it's going to be occasional assemblies and not a real ongoing teacher that gives kids fundamentals to build upon.

Of course, by the time that CoP, PPS and arts organizations step all over it, it will most likely be a you tube video of the Oregon Symphony and a temporary tattoo of the Mona Lisa.

It's going to cost the city a lot more time,effort and money to collect this than they think.so they are going to mail out a half a million forms on April 1 and expect everyone to pay 35.00 by April 15?good luck getting everyone to pay that by then.I'm sure not every portlander will get this form from them either.fight this unfair tax in court.you can't charge rich people the same dollar figure as the poor.

If the bill comes in the mail, just write on the envelope "return to sender" without opening it. That should take many months for any further contact by CoP plus you can say you never got the bill, I'm sure it's not going to be sent certified mail.

I still don't understand why the City of Portland doesn't pass a law that requires all residents who are at least 18 years old and earn an income over the federal poverty level to buy a monthly bus pass.

I met with my tax preparer yesterday. They are hiring a part-time person just to process the art-tax papers. Their best estimate of what they will charge to file for each citizen who files is minimally $50 dollars. They thought it would be even higher the way things are going with CoP's fiasco so far.

So, $85 dollars+ for each person. What a rip! If you choose to be ripped.

phil-I like your passive/aggressive style.

"I met with my tax preparer yesterday. They are hiring a part-time person just to process the art-tax papers."

Looks like the tax created jobs!

John H, I've been waiting for a pedestrian downtown access (PDX) fee to go into effect. Those darned pedestrians are getting away with murder! They walk all over downtown like they own it when they should be paying to ride the streetcar.

There's also a persistent rumor of a PICOS (Pioneer Courthouse Square) transitional occupation fee (eat lunch there or pass through) which will not apply to transients or panhandlers.

I think it would be really neat if all employers [ Capitalist who refuse to surrender } sent all payrolls to big brother.
Then the little people could ride the light-rail downtown with their
Monthly bills and after being interviewed big brother would decide the amount you truly need.
I know, right?

NW Portlander,
I wonder who will design the turnstiles needed for all these "pay up ventures" as you mentioned for eating lunch at PICOS.
By the time the city is done with collecting more every time we turn around, there should be a good industry here manufacturing turnstiles and the city can claim their plans have produced jobs.

Are their any laws that require the City to supply the actual tax bill 30 days prior to when payment is due? It might be fun to walk in to where such bills are processed and can be paid – likely the Portland (Checkered Palace) Building – and hand them a bag of 3,500 pennies (or a bag of change) with the excuse “I had to raid my piggy bank” or “pan handle on the street to pay this (expletive deleted) head tax”.

What will some cash strapped artists do - ask if they can donate some of their work in lieu of . . .?
I do wonder how this will affect their sales?


The turnstiles will be designed by local artists, of course. Supported by the new ubiquitous fee!

There may also be "Art Guard Monitors" standing by the statue of the guy with the umbrella at PICOS and the family of pigs on NW 23rd in order to charge a fee each time someone seeks to take a photograph of a friend or family member with the "art."

did you know if you pay online the city will charge you .99 for paying online. an if you and your spouse or other person who lives in you home also has to pay the fews for art taxes. thinking i need to move back to the country

My NOTICE arrived today. OK, pay on line. Ah, a convenience fee. And retroactive? Who voted for this piece of crap? I could handle it if it started in 2013, but RETROACTIVE?
I do think we ought to raise hell, march on City Hall, but I know I won't. Hell, too freaking old (77).
This goes along with the raise in water costs. Portland not using enough water? B.S.!!!

You can pay the tax for free online. You just do a transfer from your checking account.

This was challenged once and the local judge ruled that because some people are exempted, it isn't a head tax, http://www.wweek.com/portland/blog-29049-judge_rules_can_arts_tax_isnt_a_head_tax.html . It will be interesting to follow further challenges, as that ruling seems to fly in the face of what is the generally accepted definition of a head tax.

If I have to pay this, I will get the money in pennies to pay at the Revenue office. And, I want a receipt.

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