This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 27, 2013 2:23 PM. The previous post in this blog was Our messed-up tax system: TurboTax loves it. The next post in this blog is Poster child for reneging on government pensions. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Portland arts tax screw-around extends into April

Portland City Hall is still "tinkering" with the ill-fated arts tax passed by the voters last year. The city council reportedly will be making changes next week retroactive to January 1, 2012. And now we're told that none of the tax revenues collected will be distributed until after the current lawsuit is resolved. That will likely be months, even years from now.

The deadline for paying the tax is reportedly being moved back to May 15. Wonder if they'll have the rules settled by then.

We still think the city council should repeal this tax, refund the money already collected, and look into enacting a legitimate income tax, to take effect January 1, 2014. But if it insists on continuing to waste everyone's time and money denying the obvious, that's the council's prerogative. Nothing the commissioners have done so far in this episode has made any sense; perhaps it's unrealistic to think that rationality will suddenly dawn on them now.

UPDATE, 4:14 p.m.: We noticed today that the city quietly changed the administrative rules last week so that gifts are no longer considered "income" for purposes of the low-income exemption. It's interesting that the revenue bureau minions can change something so basic with no notice to the public, whereas the City Council has to hold two meetings to do something less momentous. All part of the lawlessness known as Portland City Hall.

Comments (23)

Ithink we should also demand a recount, except for 1 person that I have talked to everyone else, strangers included, say that they did not vote for this. Now I'm afraid of what will happen with the Sodium Fluoride-I don't trust these politicians and they are the ones backing it. Of course they stand to make money no matter that they never print any real statistics and at one time Randy Leonard stood for a photo with a glass of this dark brown sh-t with a comment-if you saw it you wouldn't want to drink it.

And now we're told that none of the tax revenues collected will be distributed until after the current lawsuit is resolved.

Making rules as they go along - par for the course? Even their little fix this week claiming to "help" those with low income of $1000. In my view, so out of touch they are!

What makes sense here is to repeal and do as Jack has written above. This council as so many of us know though, doesn't make sense.

On his way out the door the horrific Sam Adams did lots of interviews saying his legacy was "the results" accomplished by his years at City Hall. Yep - these are your "results" Sam.

What a lying thieving a***ole. Here are your results Sam - one cluster^%$$ after another from PDC to ArtsTax to Water Bureau running from law suits.

You and the morons on your council and the dummies who voted for you are to blame - and the rest of us poor suckers are just collateral damage. Equity my a**. Portland City government is a dirty stinking mess that continues to screw the average person and benefit the cunning few. Sadly, people here are stupid and just want to keep ignoring the messes and throwing money at problems so they feel good about themselves. Sad. And, we'll find that Hales is no better.

I would argue that its unconstitutional to charge rich people the same 35.00 rate that the poor are expected to pay.Thats unfair.Thats not a tax based on income regardless of the citys change today which does nothing to address the unconstituitionality of this tax or its unfairness.Repeal the thing and dont ask voters for any more money to bail out the schools.If the want art and music so bad then they can find the money in their budget for it without a tax on everyone else.

I too am concerned.
We need to get back to voting when we can depend on more trustworthy measures. We have been warned about software programs and machines in our elections.
My point, whether problems exist with machine outcomes or not, if any doubt exists, we need to have a thorough look and an in depth country wide discussion about this matter, not look the other way, shove under rug attitude. Is it that important to use these machines to get an answer three seconds after an election closes?

Trust has been lost with most of these politicians, they have no incentive to change,
do they?

(in case you are new, 6C means didn't vote for them)

KILL IT before it grows.

Over the weekend, our 20-something daughter (who lives with us while going to school) had another 20-something friend over. This friend had no idea that there was an Arts Tax that she was supposed to pay. She didn't recall getting a post card, didn't know anything about it.

I wonder how many other people are in her situation.

I also wonder why the news media isn't reminding people about the tax...they're good about reminding us to turn our clocks back and about pending winter storms.

Of course the rules as they are start with "Examples of income include, but are not limited to..."

So while they removed the word gifts from it, they could still consider gifts income.

I, also, like how they use the word "income" in their definition of "income".

The federal income tax does the same thing. But in this case it's a side issue, of course.

The definition of income is still obtuse, when it includes the phrase "and any other income." The definition of income is out of compliance with the long standards established by the IRS and the state of Oregon. There have been court cases disallowing local and state jurisdictions from taxing certain federal pensions. There is a long tradition of not taxing municipal bonds or Roth IRAs in many circumstances; and yet the nutcases at Portland City Hall fail to recognize the complexities of an income tax system. In fact, in the case of the Ballot Title challenge, the Judge did not rule it an income tax. The Judge in this case was not held to very high standards because the statutes allow the ballot title to be less than adequate in describing what the measure is about and what it will do. And moreover, the ballot title challenge decision is not appealable, and the Judge made a point of noting this in court.

Here's my favorite solution besides attempting to rein PERS costs: Increase the property tax rate limit by $1 per $1k for education, and decrease the property tax rate limit for other government by $1. This especially applies to the City of Portland which wastes tens of millions of dollars each year on cronyism and failed investment ideas.

You don't really need certified higher paid teachers to teach art and music anyways as you can do it with lower paid artisans with actual life experience in arts and music. The way the Arts measure is written its going to wind up being used for other purposes than arts and music anyways. PPS can cut arts and music in grades 6 and above while still qualifying for the art tax revenues. Then too the Mayor can at the drop of a hat agree to swing the money to other school purposes, like meeting escalating PERS costs.

The whole thing is more corrupt than its author Sam Adams, if that is actually possible.

Constitutionality aside, can somebody explain how it's legal and proper for the City to change the rules as passed by the voters? It seems like a slippery slope. What's to stop them from (for example) quietly raising the "tax rate" itself?

These after-the-fact rules changes seem arbitrary, were not clearly set forth in the Voters Pamphlet, &c. Will Portlanders have to look at the code every week (until the end of Time) to see if it's changed yet again? Thanks for any info.

Rumor has it that the thirty-five buck charge will be replaced by a Portland city income tax, amounting to 1% of your Oregon income tax payment.

Any bets how long it will take to raise the Portland city income tax to 10% of your Oregon income tax payment?

How about 25% of your Oregon income tax payment?

What's to stop them from (for example) quietly raising the "tax rate" itself?

As far as I know, nothing.
Correct me if that isn't the case.
The public should really have been informed about all the details before voting, but since we don't have in depth journalism, how could the people know?

I am not paying for the rich folks to attend ballet and opera. So put me in jail, that is fine, will save me some $. I am old and live on a fixed income. Let the taxpayers house and feed me. That works.

I'm definitely not paying this tax and neither are the two other people in my household. If it goes to collections maybe we too will need to pursue legal action against the city.

This head tax may have opened Pandora's Box!
This is pointing out about class
and I don't mean art class.
I have noted that when I bring this subject up to those who have money, they don't seem to think anything of this $35.00 being a problem.
I think if the schools needed assistance in the arts, then those in our community who have the money could donate if they wanted to.
How many mandates can those on limited income, etc. handle?

I will add, it also will open many eyes that haven't given a thought
as to what goes on down at city hall that now may begin to pay more attention.

"What's to stop them from (for example) quietly raising the "tax rate" itself?"

What about a citizen-sponsored Charter amendment? Take away the council's ability to institute an income tax without a public vote.

"This friend had no idea that there was an Arts Tax that she was supposed to pay. She didn't recall getting a post card, didn't know anything about it."

I find this hard to believe, doesn't this person vote or read any local news stories? Ignorance is no excuse.


Not everyone registers to vote. (Some because they don't want to be called for Jury duty.)

Others may not have "been of age" to vote for this tax, and couldn't vote on it, but are now subject to it.

Heck, someone may have even been in a coma during the whole thing and recently came out. (Yes, it is a stretch, but certainly possible.)

The news comes in fast clips with no details. Some people have stopped getting the paper. People are busy, some working several jobs just to get buy. Yes, some are just not interested or engaged in finding out, but I still maintain that the public for the most part is kept from critical information. They might have heard about an art tax on the news, along with everything else, information overload.

I posted a couple of weeks ago about how a neighbor told me that her grandsons' school held annual fund raisers for their school's extra curricular activities such as the arts.

I recently spoke to her and she informed me it was the Beverly Clearly school and some others combined. She didn't know any other details other than that these fund raisers are done every year and have been done for many years prior. They are able to obtain some big name celebrities and items for a silent auction and raise thousands of dollars.

When I previously posted this, I did not know the name of the school or the area. In any case, some people here thought it was not legal to have this kind of fund raiser for PBS. Apparently it is. And they have other fund raisers as well involving the Lloyd Center at Christmas Time.

It's like having a bake sale or car wash to raise money for band uniforms. The money goes to the school that raises the funds.

So okay now, my $35.00 which I prefer to spend on groceries will also go to schools like this? Why can't the wealthier schools help out the poorer ones with their fund raising resources and knowledge? After all, isn't this Portland, the one big Kumbaya city where we all ride bikes, refuse plastic bags and love one another?

Or do the rich dictate we rob from the poor to give to the poor? I have a feeling that people like me, on a very fixed income, did not vote for this ridiculous tax. It's hard to believe we are in the minority. It's more easy to believe that the majority of us have just given up on this city and didn't bother to vote at all.

And that's a shame.

I am just hoping that this tax will either be repealed or brought down to a more equitable solution.

It's more easy to believe that the majority of us have just given up on this city and didn't bother to vote at all.

This may be the case, you can be sure those who benefit will be out in droves voting.

It may be easier on the nerves anyway to put it aside and "give up" on the short term, but in the long run it only gets worse. People need to be encouraged to vote or they will continue to be shafted.

By the way, we also need to feel secure that our votes are counted properly. I wrote about that yesterday, for if there is any doubt, that too will stop people from voting.

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