We're a Low-Tax, High-Fee State

Chuck Sheketoff

Let me put a disclaimer right up front: it is rather meaningless to compare states in terms of revenue collections (as, unfortunately, is often done in political and policy discussions). How Oregon ranks relative to other states fails to inform whether revenue collections are sufficient to support the public structures that create opportunity and the quality of life that Oregonians desire and expect.

That said, if people are going to put forth comparisons, they at least should be based on facts.

And, as OCPP's latest issue brief shows, the facts are that as a share of total personal income:

Oregon is a low-tax state . . .

But fees are high . . .

Adding up to slightly below average revenue

Read more in Oregon: Where Taxes are Low, Fees are High and Revenue Is Slightly Below Average

Oregon Center for Public PolicyChuck Sheketoff is the executive director of the Oregon Center for Public Policy. You can sign up to receive email notification of OCPP materials at www.ocpp.org.

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    Thanks Chuck. As a guy who tries to be about the facts even when I'm fuzzy on the numbers, this helps a lot...Keep 'em coming.

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    Chuck reports that Oregon is a low tax-high fee state. Based on 2008-09 census of governments data, Oregon state and local governments collected 15.2 percent of total personal income, which makes us about average overall. That is correct and it is notable that that Oregon ranks 44th out of the 50 states in its total state and local tax collections. However, there is another way to look at this issue, taxes paid by Oregonians. According to the Tax Foundation, ranks 17th. This is pretty big discrepancy (44th vs. 17th). How does one explain it? The answer is that Oregon, like CA and NY, exports a lot of tax revenue to other states, which in turn is a result of the design of our corporate and personal income tax systems.

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