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Monday, March 4, 2013

The tax form the City of Portland doesn't want you to see

If you want to pay the City of Portland's new head tax for the arts the old-fashioned way, here's the form you can mail in with your check. It's a pdf file, but no, it's not a fillable pdf file, because the city wants you to pay electronically, and they're being difficult about this.

Keep in mind that the constitutionality of this ridiculous tax is in doubt. That is all we're going to say, because the matter is heading for litigation.

Comments (15)

Do you know for a fact that it is headed to litigation?

It is at my house.

This is a mean spirited head tax.
To go retro is another aspect to the mean spirited part of this.
All people whether on social security, disability, are these people nuts or desperate?
This will again drive more people out of Portland, eventually only those who are so stuck here that they cannot get out and the very wealthy can remain. The very wealthy can live with a "sacrificed" city because they can easily get away to second or third homes or fly here or there.
Maybe this is Sam's revenge for those attempted recalls. Is there anyone who doubts he continued "wrecking" our city, after Katz and Hales did a major share of it? Now, watch out, Hales is showing his true colors!

When Chris Lowe wrote his anti arts tax editorial last year in Blue Oregon, the last thing he added said it best:

"'Flat tax; usually refers to a flat percentage rate of income, and that a fixed amount per person tax like Measure 26-146 represents a declining rate per income increment as income rises. This distinction is useful for seeing that this measure is not just regressive, but exceedlingly so."

The judge who ruled to allow the measure on the ballot fudged in saying that this is not a flat tax because it's "based on income." He made that foolish statement because, he claimed, those under the official poverty line are exempt. That argument is paper thin because, in the only sense that counts, it is NOT based on income. The same $35 does not equate to the same percentage of taking from every person up the spectrum from the nearly officially impoverished to multi-millionaires who frequent the opera, the Portland Art Museum, etc. - institutions that (unlike the Oregon History Center, following its successful ballot measure) do not plan to offer reduced tickets to those who can't afford to pay full price, even though the hand in their pocket is taking exactly as much from them as it is from their neighbors in the West Hills.

It is also open-ended and because it has no stated "life", will go on indefinitely.

I just reread the disclaimers at the bottom of the form and it actually says that, in future years, only electronic reminders would be sent out regarding the Arts tax.

Never mind that there are actually taxpayers out there who do not own computers, can not afford a computer, a fancy cell phone or an iPod, may not want to own computers and/or don't have access to or know how to use computers. I guess it's OK to just ignore those peoples' needs now. They're too busy trying to figure out how to stretch the food budget since the city is counting child support payments and social security checks as "income", potentially taking food out of the mouths and clothes off the backs of kids and the elderly.

Setting the head tax issue aside, how the heck did the City get from this (passed ballot measure):

"A tax of $35 is imposed on the income of each income-earning resident"

to this (administrative code):

“Income” includes, but is not limited to, all income earned or received from any source, regardless of whether it is taxable under state or federal law. Examples of income include, but are not limited to, gifts, interest from individual or joint savings accounts or other interest bearing accounts, child support payments, alimony, unemployment assistance, disability income, sales of stocks and other property (even if sold at a loss), dividends, social security income (taxable or non-taxable), gross receipts from a business and wages as an employee.

B. “Income-earning” means the receipt of income from any source whatsoever, including, but not limited to, gainful employment, investments and gifts.

When have capital gains, dividends, and gifts, etc. ever been considered earned income under any federal or state tax system?

I am hopeful this tax gets struck down in court. Amen to Jack and/or other attorneys taking this on. I heard they were looking for the right plaintiffs for this suit. I guess I didn't make the grade, although I tried to volunteer.
This tax was an end run around property tax limits, as it couldn't have been a rebirthing of the Multnomah I tax circa 2003 through 2005; because this barely held up on its repeal bid in 2004 (if I recall correctly...the taxpayer association got it referred once citizens realized the burden in 2003). Moreover, this Arts tax is also an end run around water and sewer billing, as this is the more normal place to raid citizens for City Hall's pet projects; except City Hall is being sued and has had to face up to misuse of water funds.
If you want to see a real travesty of Portland City Hall public funded Arts, go down to the east end of the Hawthorne Bridge and you'll find two erected scrap metal assemblies. This cost Portlanders $700k funded at 1 and half percent of the eastside streetcar project. The two scrap heaps also took out useable onramp lanes on and off the Hawthorne Bridge. Now vehicles traveling via Grand avenue wanting to get on or off the Hawthorne bridge must make more abrupt turns.
This town is totally frightful what with Sam Adams lurking around at City Club. I just know he'll be back at City Hall again. Not that it makes any difference, because he was pretty much replaced by those of the same depraved ilk.

According to the rules, any person who turned 18 before December 31st of last year, living in a household above the poverty level, with ANY kind of income, owes this tax. So, if I understand correctly, that means that some kid who just turned 18 on December 30th, who still lives at home, and received $1 or more as a birthday gift, would technically owe this $35 "income" tax. Am I really interpreting the rules correctly? I know Portland lacks common sense, but this is a new level of screwiness.

Very simple. I will not pay this 'tax'. I am retired, living on SS, and that (almost)$3 per month buys a lot of ramen. If it all went to the schools I might. But the rich folk that frequent the opera and the art museum (neither of which I can afford) have no right to dun me for something I can't use. Regressive and unlawful.

People are confused about this, as you can see from excerpts below.

PORTLAND, Ore. – Brenda Corrie thought the arts tax notice she got in the mail was a sophisticated scam.

“It only says you can pay online,” she said. “It doesn’t indicate that you can mail in a payment if you don’t have access to a computer, and that made me real suspicious.”

Corrie, who lives in Northeast Portland, said she had no idea the arts tax passed.

“I think there should have been notification sent out prior to this, letting people know it’s coming out and what the expectations are,” said Corrie.

B.P. Red you will not be the only one refusing to pay this "tax".

An operational objective in a scam is to distract the rube with flim flam. That way, the really serious stuff can can proceed unobstructed. I think the "arts tax" qualifies as flim flam. Of course, the city might not be that devious. It could be just a dumb idea that ended up as a tax.

The maximum penalty for failing to pay this tax is $35. It makes sense to force them to waste time, effort and MONEY to track down the scofflaws. IMO the risk of a $15 fine is money well spent.

From the city's web site:

What’s the penalty for not paying or filing on time?

After April 15: $15 penalty
After October 15: $35 penalty

Not everyone has a computer. Not everyone wants their info out in the ether net.
It's annoying and exactly what the IRS is doing this year also. Because of all the last minute changes to the Fed tax codes no one can find a printed info booklet for doing their taxes. Post Offices don't have them nor the libraries. WTF?
Inmates are truly running the asylum.

It will be interesting to see what the collection process is for a $70 debt.

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