Tax justice is central to economic justice. Our tax system is how, together, we fund schools, health care, transportation, and the many public services that foster quality of life. Unfortunately, wealthy elites and the corporations they control have rigged the tax system in their favor. As a result, Oregon’s state and local taxes, combined, ask proportionately more from those who earn the least than from those who earn the most. It also weighs more heavily on Oregonians of color.
The following are key reforms that would help transform Oregon’s tax system into one that advances economic justice.
Make Oregon’s “kicker” work for all Oregonians
It’s time to make Oregon’s “kicker” law work for all Oregonians. Right now, the kicker gives a massive tax rebate to the most well off, while providing little or no help to those who need it the most.
There are ways to make the kicker serve the interests of all Oregonians. One option would be to change how the kicker is distributed so everyone gets the same amount. The Oregon Center for Public Policy will catalyze a community conversation and research project to determine how best to transform the kicker into a force for economic justice.
Repair Oregon’s Constitution
The wealthy and special interests have rigged the tax system by altering Oregon’s Constitution to make it hard for the state and local governments to raise revenue to fund public services. Achieving economic justice requires reforming constitutional property tax limits, eliminating the supermajority requirement, and allowing transfer fees on mansions, among other necessary reforms.
Make the tax system more transparent
Tax transparency would give Oregonians the information needed to advance economic justice. Oregon should collect tax data by race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender to better understand the impact of particular tax policies. It should also require large corporations to make public how much they pay in taxes and which Oregon tax breaks they use.
Raise taxes on the rich
Making Oregonians more economically secure requires investing in their well-being: housing, education, child care, and more. The fairest way to pay for these investments is to increase taxes on the highest-earning Oregonians, especially millionaires, and limit tax breaks for the rich.
Make it free and easy to file taxes
Oregon should make it easy and free to file taxes, saving Oregonians money and time, while making it more likely that low-income workers claim tax benefits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit. Oregon should also sustainably fund culturally appropriate tax preparations services.
Raise taxes on big corporations
To achieve prosperity for all Oregonians, corporations need to contribute more to the common good. Oregon should fight corporate tax avoidance by enacting complete reporting and raise taxes on big corporations, while lowering taxes on small Oregon businesses.