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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 28, 2013 2:47 PM. The previous post in this blog was A guest post from Dave Lister. The next post in this blog is Here's to the ace bracketeers. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Hey, City Council! While you're tweaking...

An alert reader suggests that the absurd new Portland arts tax may be unconstitutional in more ways than one. Noting that the city's tax regulations treat "social security income (taxable or non-taxable)" as "income" for purposes of the city tax's low-income exemption, the reader writes:

I have not seen anyone suggest a basis for the arts tax to be imposed on Social Security income, given the following provision of Article IX of the Constitution of Oregon:

"Section 9. Taxation of certain benefits prohibited. Benefits payable under the federal old age and survivors insurance program or benefits under section 3(a), 4(a) or 4(f) of the federal Railroad Retirement Act of 1974, as amended, or their successors, shall not be considered income for the purposes of any tax levied by the state or by a local government in this state. Such benefits shall not be used in computing the tax liability of any person under any such tax. Nothing in this section is intended to affect any benefits to which the beneficiary would otherwise be entitled. This section applies to tax periods beginning on or after January 1, 1986." [Emphasis added.]

Has this issue been discussed anywhere?

Until now, not that we've seen. Someone who is being taxed solely by virtue of their receiving such benefits ought to protest. But that ain't us.

Comments (22)

I am also curious about if for some reason one source of income is prohibited from local taxation, how does the Arts tax ordinance "stack," if at all income types for arts taxation? If all income is the same, the first incidence after the thousand dollar threshold might also be considered un-taxable, because the first incidence of taxable income is a mix of both un-taxable and taxable incomes. (I guess there is a clause in the ordinance which says if one part is struck down the others remain. This would not be effective though if the tax is found to be a head tax.) Some have also argued the domicile language of the arts tax is unlawful.

And if the City is going to re-write the arts tax, at what point shouldn't it be resubmitted to voters since we are operating under the guise of a fair election involving the Arts tax. Of course, it was not a fair election at all as the City's surrogate charities (sporting six figure plus salaries for their administrators) were founded and funded by the City, and the ballot title came shaped by City Hall using the old saw of doing it for the children (when its mostly to fund PERS and high end arts for the well off). The Judge could not change the title very much because statutes allow a less than adequate depiction of the real impact of the measure.

Does the city have to put a new tax up for a vote? I didn't think so. It's usually done for political cover.

Of course they can just "tweak" the administrative rules again, and hope people don't notice and request a refund.

Just kill it already. Pretty please with sugar on top!

This is interesting. I collect SS and pay tax on part of it to the Feds; but I've never noticed an adjustment for Oregon income tax liability relating to that. Other differences in income calculations -- interest on treasurys for example -- are handled, as far as I know, through adjustments (plus or minus) to income as calculated for federal purposes.

I once made Bill McDonald Laugh.

"The group had not been able to engage the Somali community as much as it would have liked."
Those people know to steer clear of Pirates.
Posted by Tom | March 1, 2013 8:37 AM"

That's a finesse shot, Tom. You could have gotten in trouble in so many ways, but you drained it. Well played.
You know another group that's done a tremendous job discouraging pirates? Carnival Cruise.

Posted by Bill McDonald | March 1, 2013 8:42 AM

Form 40, line 14 and 17.

oops. I meant to post this in the thread about Dick Cavett. Sorry.

Classic CoP performance.

I have a friend who has only SS as income.

He and I are going to have a little talk.

his whole thing re he Arts Tax reminds me of variation on the title of an old Jimmy Breslin book, "The Gang Who Couldn't Tax Straight".

Too funny.

My tax preparer said today she had no idea if people will be able to deduct the $35 as tax paid on next year's form ... just one more twist on this mess.

Heh. He said "tweaking".

Form 40, line 14 and 17.

Thanks, TG. I shoulda looked first.

Al in SE: According to the Arts Tax FAQs by the City of Portland,"Taxpayers that itemize deductions on their federal income tax return will generally be able to deduct their Arts Tax payment on their 2013 Schedule A (as State and Local Income Taxes).

It will be difficult though, if the Arts Tax is determined not to be an income tax.


This fiasco is a brilliant piece of performance art with a cast of dozens. In that spirit, I'd like to see the five members of the City Council open the public meeting on the tax repeal with a 3-minute group twerking session. It'd be even more meaningful if Sam and Randy participated.

The only further participation I want Sam and Randy involved in is if they are in stocks in Pioneer square and the city is selling tomatoes to throw at them for the "arts".

That would create quite a scene/picture for artists to make paintings of
or photographs of, etc. to then sell. That could be quite a lucrative fundraiser!
How much would one pay to throw a tomato at them?

John commented about federal income ax deductability of the 2012 Arts Tax:

"It will be difficult though, if the Arts Tax is determined not to be an income tax."

If the Arts is not an income tax under Oregon Law, it can't be levied or collected by he City. Head axes are a "no-no". If is not an income tax under Oregon law you won' be paying it, so the question of deductabiliy under federal law probably never arises.

Good catch, Alert Reader and Jack.

The ordinance itself does not define "income earning." Thus, the term is defined by the administrative rules. These rules don't need a vote of Council. We saw this last week, when Jack's posts embarrassed staff into quietly removing gifts from the definition of income.

My guess is that we will see SS and RR retirement income silently slide out of the administrative rules. Thank goodness Jack caught it before we had to spend another $100,000 on oops-we-messed-up mailings.

Maybe, it's time the City Attorney had a look-see at what the Revenue Bureau is doing, just so they can say, "You can do that, that, and that, but you definitely can't do that." Isn't that what they're paid to do?

As I said in my testimony to City Council, every tweak to this tax demonstrates just how cancerous it is. It cannot be cured with tweaks.

Silly rabbit?

You actually think they thought this thru before-hand and vetted it legally?

Still a head tax and un-constitutional.

To answer clineman's question I'd pay a $1 a tomato...
$2 for a potato....
There might even be a market for bricks that would be recycled into paying stones....

Eric Fruis, Jack B., Isaac Laquedem - -

Looking at ORS Chapter 180 in general, why doesn't the Sate Administrative Procedure Act apply, requiring notice and public comment and hearings before administrative rules are adopted by Portland's Revenue Bureau

Well boys and girls, I actually asked the folks at City Hall if my being on SS excluded me from the Arts Tax because technically it was not income. That was the first thing that came to mind when I recieved my flyer in the mail.

They told me I still had to pay the tax.



If they could, they would tax you after you leave this mortal coil for benefits accrued and collected in heaven as a reward for living a good life.


As a lawyer/blogger, I get
to be a member of:

In Vino Veritas

Lange, Pinot Gris 2015
Kiona, Lemberger 2014
Willamette Valley, Pinot Gris 2015
Aix, Rosé de Provence 2016
Marchigüe, Cabernet 2013
Inazío Irruzola, Getariako Txakolina Rosé 2015
Maso Canali, Pinot Grigio 2015
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Kirkland, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2016
Cantele, Salice Salentino Reserva 2013
Whispering Angel, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2013
Avissi, Prosecco
Cleto Charli, Lambrusco di Sorbara Secco, Vecchia Modena
Pique Poul, Rosé 2016
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Rosé 2016
Stoller, Pinot Noir Rosé 2016
Chehalem, Inox Chardonnay 2015
The Four Graces, Pinot Gris 2015
Gascón, Colosal Red 2013
Cardwell Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
L'Ecole No. 41, Merlot 2013
Della Terra, Anonymus
Willamette Valley, Dijon Clone Chardonnay 2013
Wraith, Cabernet, Eidolon Estate 2012
Januik, Red 2015
Tomassi, Valpolicella, Rafaél, 2014
Sharecropper's Pinot Noir 2013
Helix, Pomatia Red Blend 2013
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2013
Locations, Spanish Red Wine
Locations, Argentinian Red Wine
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Shatter, Grenache, Maury 2012
Argyle, Vintage Brut 2011
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16 Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2014
Benton Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
Primarius, Pinot Gris 2015
Januik, Merlot 2013
Napa Cellars, Cabernet 2013
J. Bookwalter, Protagonist 2012
LAN, Rioja Edicion Limitada 2011
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Rutherford 2009
Denada Cellars, Cabernet, Maipo Valley 2014
Marchigüe, Cabernet, Colchagua Valley 2013
Oberon, Cabernet 2014
Hedges, Red Mountain 2012
Balboa, Rose of Grenache 2015
Ontañón, Rioja Reserva 2015
Three Horse Ranch, Pinot Gris 2014
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
Nelms Road, Merlot 2013
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Pinot Gris 2014
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2012
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2013
Villa Maria, Sauvignon Blanc 2015
G3, Cabernet 2013
Chateau Smith, Cabernet, Washington State 2014
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16
Willamette Valley, Rose of Pinot Noir, Whole Clusters 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Ca' del Baio Barbaresco Valgrande 2012
Goodfellow, Reserve Pinot Gris, Clover 2014
Lugana, San Benedetto 2014
Wente, Cabernet, Charles Wetmore 2011
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
King Estate, Pinot Gris 2015
Adelsheim, Pinot Gris 2015
Trader Joe's, Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley 2015
La Vite Lucente, Toscana Red 2013
St. Francis, Cabernet, Sonoma 2013
Kendall-Jackson, Pinot Noir, California 2013
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Napa Valley 2013
Erath, Pinot Noir, Estate Selection 2012
Abbot's Table, Columbia Valley 2014
Intrinsic, Cabernet 2014
Oyster Bay, Pinot Noir 2010
Occhipinti, SP68 Bianco 2014
Layer Cake, Shiraz 2013
Desert Wind, Ruah 2011
WillaKenzie, Pinot Gris 2014
Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2013
Des Amis, Rose 2014
Dunham, Trautina 2012
RoxyAnn, Claret 2012
Del Ri, Claret 2012
Stoppa, Emilia, Red 2004
Primarius, Pinot Noir 2013
Domaines Bunan, Bandol Rose 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Deer Creek, Pinot Gris 2015
Beaulieu, Rutherford Cabernet 2013
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
King Estate, Pinot Gris, Backbone 2014
Oberon, Napa Cabernet 2013
Apaltagua, Envero Carmenere Gran Reserva 2013
Chateau des Arnauds, Cuvee des Capucins 2012
Nine Hats, Red 2013
Benziger, Cabernet, Sonoma 2012
Roxy Ann, Claret 2012
Januik, Merlot 2012
Conundrum, White 2013
St. Francis, Sonoma Cabernet 2012

The Occasional Book

Marc Maron - Waiting for the Punch
Phil Stanford - Rose City Vice
Kenneth R. Feinberg - What is Life Worth?
Kent Haruf - Our Souls at Night
Peter Carey - True History of the Kelly Gang
Suzanne Collins - The Hunger Games
Amy Stewart - Girl Waits With Gun
Philip Roth - The Plot Against America
Norm Macdonald - Based on a True Story
Christopher Buckley - Boomsday
Ryan Holiday - The Obstacle is the Way
Ruth Sepetys - Between Shades of Gray
Richard Adams - Watership Down
Claire Vaye Watkins - Gold Fame Citrus
Markus Zusak - I am the Messenger
Anthony Doerr - All the Light We Cannot See
James Joyce - Dubliners
Cheryl Strayed - Torch
William Golding - Lord of the Flies
Saul Bellow - Mister Sammler's Planet
Phil Stanford - White House Call Girl
John Kaplan & Jon R. Waltz - The Trial of Jack Ruby
Kent Haruf - Eventide
David Halberstam - Summer of '49
Norman Mailer - The Naked and the Dead
Maria Dermoȗt - The Ten Thousand Things
William Faulkner - As I Lay Dying
Markus Zusak - The Book Thief
Christopher Buckley - Thank You for Smoking
William Shakespeare - Othello
Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything
Cheryl Strayed - Tiny Beautiful Things
Sara Varon - Bake Sale
Stephen King - 11/22/63
Paul Goldstein - Errors and Omissions
Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Steve Martin - Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

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