Corporations make billions of dollars here in Oregon, but pay fewer taxes here than in any other state. The result? Oregon’s families and small businesses pay more than their fair share in taxes, and our schools and basic family services are underfunded.
For years, advocates have worked to make Oregon’s tax system more fair, but corporations have proven willing to spend tens of millions of dollars to avoid even small increases in the taxes they pay. Year after year, corporations and large business associations make wild claims that local businesses will pay the price for any new tax increase — ignoring the fact that small and local businesses currently pay a higher tax rate in Oregon than some of the world’s biggest corporations.
IP 25 brings truth to the debate about corporate taxes. It requires that publicly traded corporations in Oregon reveal the same tax information about their Oregon taxes that corporations do for their federal taxes.
Key provisions of the measure:
Oregon Needs Corporate Tax Transparency
- Requires companies that must publicly report their taxes nationally to report their state taxes to the Secretary of State
- The reports would be made public on a website, similar to ORESTAR
- The required information would mirror the required information these companies provide to the federal government, and would not require companies to gather additional data
- The report goes to the Secretary of State to avoid conflict with privacy laws around taxes
- There would be a penalty, limited by the size of the company and capped at $1 million, for not reporting
- The reports would not just include taxes owed, but also tax credits
- The information would be delayed by three years to make sure that “company secrets” are not revealed by tax decisions
Oregon can’t wait for investments in schools and services, and those investments rely on corporations paying their fair share in taxes. If Oregon lawmakers better understood who paid taxes and who did not, they could more fairly design a tax package that would benefit Oregon families and boost Oregon’s economy.
IP 25 provides transparency and honesty to a tax discussion that badly needs it. With an understanding of the taxes corporations pay, we can take an important step in making Oregon’s schools and services as good as families deserve.
Here's a measure that everyone who is anywhere on the political spectrum can support -- require that publicly traded corporations submit their Oregon tax data to the Secretary of State so that we can all understand who pays what. Note that there is a three-year delay built right in, so that competitors won't be able to use the data to disadvantage any corporation.
John Gear is a Salem attorney.