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Measures 56 and 59: Tax Policy

OPB | Oct. 17, 2008 midnight | Updated: Sept. 10, 2013 8:45 p.m.

What’s your take on the tax measures 56 and 59?

Oregonian voters are facing two different tax-related ballot measures this year.

The first requires a bit of history:

The passage of Measure 47 in 1996 put into effect the “double majority” rule, whereby a proposed property tax increase can only pass if it wins the majority of the vote, and if at least 50% of registered voters cast ballots.

Currently, a double majority is required for property tax measures in any election except in November of even-numbered years. Measure 56, a legislative referral, would undo this requirement for any May or November election. The double majority requirement would still apply to elections in other months, to avoid taxes being passed in low profile elections.

Proponents of the measure claim that the “double majority” rule’s effects are to unfairly starve state institutions of needed funding, and to reward (or potentially misinterpret) those who choose not to participate in an election. Opponents consider the double majority to be a safeguard against “sneaker” tax increases — levies passed in off-year, non-November elections, which traditionally draw fewer voters.

The other tax measure, Measure 59, would allow taxpayers to deduct federal income taxes from the state income taxes. Proponents say it would stop the unfair and financially draining practice of “double taxation.” Opponents respond that Measure 59 would deprive public institutions of vital money — and that it’s regressive.

Does the tax code need to be rewritten? What about the way property taxes can be passed? How do you balance “overtaxation” and “underfunding,” and what’s your measure of 56 and 59?

Photo credit: Yoko Can’t Spell / Flickr / Creative Commons

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