Working families have gone through a lot over the last year. Many have had to deal with job loss, losing a loved one to COVID-19, and learning how to become a teacher for their kids or even grandkids like my wife Sue and I have had to do.
The last thing we should be doing is adding to this uncertainty by allowing the state to tax the federal stimulus checks that a lot of people in Oregon received last year. I could not believe that the federal government would send a check meant to pay rent and/or mortgage, put food on the table or pay for babysitters, just to have the State of Oregon take some of it back in taxes.
Back in May of 2020, the Legislative Revenue Office issued a report that estimated that 870,000 middle-class families could be sending around $300 from their stimulus check to the state government. I was shocked that the issue had not yet been corrected, this is why I introduced the Stimulus Check Protection Act, also known as Senate Bill 842.
To me, it's common sense that relief money, regardless of whether it was state or federal relief is meant to help Oregonians not to be taxed again. Oregonians deserve to keep all of this money in their respective communities, so they can support the local community.
In a time when Oregon is seeing better than expected revenue because of federal bailouts, there is no need to be ‘nickel and diming’ Oregonians. The loophole in the tax code that taxed stimulus checks is expected to raise over $110 million. Massive federal packages have been sending billions to the state of Oregon, to turn around and tax Ore- gonians on top of that is just flat out wrong.
It is no secret that our politics are more polarized than ever and bipartisanship is increasingly difficult. Yet, I have been encouraged by the amount of support this idea has received from other state and federal legislators. Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-Springfield) has expressed support for the concept of ensuring stimulus check dollars stay in the pockets of Oregonians. After I announced my intent to draft this fix, other legislative Democrats have voiced interest in solving the issue. Bipartisanship should find its way forward when we are helping people.
Some will ask, “Why send me a reimbursement check when we could just exempt the stimulus money from taxation?”
That is what I, along with a number of my other colleagues in the Legislature, would have preferred. But because of procedural rules, if passed, SB 842 will not go into effect until September. So, yes, when you file your taxes in the coming weeks, you will be sending part of your stimulus check to the state, unfortunately.
But only temporarily, when SB 842 is passed, you will get a check in the mail around the end of September or October to make up the difference.
I urge my Republican and Democrat colleagues alike to support this bill and show Ore- gonians that bipartisanship isn't dead. We can work together and show our commitment to Oregonians.
Senator Dick Anderson
Senate District 5 is seven counties along the coast from Tillamook to Coos Bay. Senate Anderson’s legislative website is www.oregonlegislature.gov/anderson.