The average Oregonian might rightly ask, “The CAT? Why all the fuss?”

Chuck Sheketoff

Twenty-five cents for every $100 in sales.

That is how much a company in the construction industry with $100 million in Oregon sales would pay under the commercial activities tax (CAT) being discussed in the legislature. Those 25 cents would be paid by the company, reducing the profit passed along to the owners and taxed on their personal income taxes.

Compare that to what that company’s employees are paying. The average individual taxpayer in Oregon pays 24 times that amount — $6 on every $100 of income — in personal income taxes.

Or take the case of an auto dealer with $35 million in retail sales a year. That dealership would pay 24 cents on every $100 in sales, compared to the $6 that the employees pay.

Or consider a retail business with $1 million in sales per year — a sales goal many small business owners on Main Street would love to hit. That business would pay two cents in taxes on every $100 in sales. The average Oregon taxpayer pays 300 times that — $6 — in personal income taxes on every $100 in income.

The average Oregonian might rightly ask, “The CAT? Why all the fuss?”

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

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