For us, the last session brought some mixed emotions. We watched, helpless in the last hours when the legislature passed two bills with radically different impacts. One, the Kids’ Credit will mean a lot to some poor families with young children. They’ll receive $1000 for each child under six. That’s a maximum of $5000 per family, (if you’re either popping kids out frequently or in multiples). The other for families at the other end of the financial spectrum, those inheriting up to $15 million in farm or forest land can pay no Oregon estate tax on that property. That’s a maximum of $2,400,000 per family. To be clear, the existing law that Tax Fairness Oregon helped design and pass in 2012 already provided a $7.5 million exemption for these natural resource estates, but it had some constraints that the new law took away. Keep in mind that only 4% of Oregon estates pay any taxes.
The fact that legislators would pass such a huge benefit for a limited number of well-off families is demoralizing for those who think that wealth inequality is one of the biggest issues of our times, a contributor to homelessness and hopelessness and the kind of anger and depression that breeds gun violence and mental breakdowns. Of course, it also has a huge negative effect on our democracy and the vitality of local economies.
It’s led us to begin a series of meetings with legislators to talk about wealth inequality and the role legislators can play in exacerbating or reducing it though tax measures. Here’s the one-pager we’re leaving with them.
If you’d like to join us on a visit with your legislators, please give us a call. We’ll likely ask you to get it scheduled. We’re particularly interested in legislators outside the core Portland area.
Here’s the one-pager we are using with legislators: TaxCodeWealthInequality