A new business tax is set to go into effect this coming year, and state officials are holding meetings around the state to explain where things stand and gather feedback.
A panel from the Oregon Department of Revenue held a meeting Tuesday night in Bend to talk with businesses about how the corporate activity tax will work.
The new tax is a result of Oregon House Bill 3427, which was signed by Gov. Kate Brown in May.
The Department of Revenue is traveling the state to get feedback from business owners about the new tax, to help write the rules for it.
The tax will be levied on businesses that see at least $1 million in what the bill calls “commercial activity,” meaning the amount of sales, not just revenue.
The new tax is set to go into effect starting Jan. 1.
Robin Maxey, public information officer for the Department of Revenue, said the tax was born out of the Student Success Act, to better fund public schools.
“House Bill 3427 which created the corporate activity tax, created the student success fund for that money to go in, and it spells out how that money can be used by school districts across the state to improve education,” Maxey said at Monday night’s meeting in Bend.
The tax will be $250 on the first $1 million in sales and a 0.57% tax on gross receipts over $1 million.
According to the Department of Revenue, the tax will generate $1 billion a year for public school funding.
Several business owners attended Tuesday night’s meeting, and several had questions for the panel.
Many expressed concerns the new tax could severely hurt their business, and in some cases cause people to lose money or be forced to move out of the state.
Sunriver Brewing owner Marc Cameron said his biggest issue was that the decision never came before voters, and he feels the rollout of the new tax is leading to more problems.
“To take on something this enormous, without it ever being passed on the ballot, and to implement it in 180 days, because the tax starts Jan. 1, 2020,” Cameron said. “It just seems like something no business in the state of Oregon would undertake. So I leave here with a lot of questions.”
Cameron added this tax does not totally change the way he’ll have to run his business, but he wishes the money could go toward making his company better for customers and his employees.
Overall, there was concern and confusion from the business owners in attendance.
On Wednesday morning, another meeting to discuss the tax will be held in Redmond at 7 a.m. in the Middle Sisters Building at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds.
To learn more about the tax, click here.