What it does: Measure 97 levies a 2.5 percent corporate sales tax on Oregon sales of certain corporations exceeding $25 million. The so-called “gross receipts” tax, advanced by a group of employee unions, has emerged as the most controversial proposal on this year’s ballot and has spawned a campaign battle on social media and the airwaves.
Proponents, including Gov. Kate Brown, argue that it is the only viable option for avoiding cuts in state services. Lawmakers have for years failed to tackle tax reform in the state. Measure 97 offers a reliable influx of an estimated of $3 billion in new tax revenue each year, which could be used for education, health care and seniors services. Meanwhile, the tax targets less than 1 percent of the state’s businesses – mostly large and out-of-state corporations. Corporations also pay 6.7 percent of the state’s overall income taxes, an inequity that Measure 97 could help address, proponents say.
Opponents of the tax measure contend that companies will pass on much of the cost of the tax to consumers. They cite a Legislative Revenue Office study that shows the typical family will pay $600 more per year in the form of higher prices and lost job opportunities because of the tax. The office estimated that economic growth would slow by about 38,000 jobs. Opponents argue the tax is unfair because it taxes sales rather than profits and targets businesses solely on the way they chose to pay their taxes.
Endorsements for: A broad coalition of public employee unions, education associations and progressive organizations, including Yes on 97, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employers, Oregon Education Association, Oregon Nurses Association, Service Employees International Union, League of Women Voters, American Federation of Teachers, NARAL Pro Choice Oregon, Oregon Public Health Association, Progressive Party of Oregon, Latinos Unidos Siempre, Main Street Alliance of Oregon, Oregon AFL-CIO, United Academics of the University of Oregon, Freedom Socialist Party and Right 2 Dream Too.
Endorsements against: The measure is opposed by many business and professional organizations, including No On Measure 97, Portland Business Alliance, Oregon Small Business Association, Oregon Bankers Association, Oregon Association of Realtors, Oregon Farm Bureau, Oregon Cattlemens Association, Oregon Wheat Growers League, Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association, Oregon Business Council, Oregon Brewers Guild, Oregon Forest Industries Council, Oregon Fuels Association, Associated Oregon Loggers, Associated Wall and Ceiling Contractors, and Astoria-Warrenton Chamber of Commerce.