Ballot Measure 79 would amend the Oregon Constitution to prohibit real estate transfer taxes. Voters should say no.
We firmly oppose using the state's constitution as a pawn in the debate over tax reform, and we can see no reason that this particular tax possibility deserves special protection.
In states with a real estate transfer tax, a percent of the value of a property is collected when ownership changes, most commonly when it is sold. It most cases, it functions like a sales tax on a property sale. Oregon law already prohibits such a tax, but backers of Measure 79 want to block any possibility of legislative action by having the prohibition enshrined in the constitution.
They say Oregon already has high property taxes, and a transfer tax would pile on top and be punitive, amounting to double taxation. They argue the additional tax would make purchasing a home unaffordable for some would-be buyers. And they point out that such a tax could be imposed even if no money changed hands, as in the transfer of property from one family member to another.
Oregon does have a problem with taxes. Income and property taxes are high, and the lack of a sales tax can make the system unstable, going from boom to bust as economic conditions change.
Gov. John Kitzhaber recently announced his own effort to revamp the state's tax structure, and we agree that a robust debate is desperately needed to find ways to change taxation methods to add stability and encourage economic development.
What Oregon doesn't need is to have groups embark on tax reform of their own to ensure their individual sector of the economy is immune to taxation.
andndash; WesCom News Service (Bend Bulletin)