Taxation with a vengeance

It was a bad day for a lot of upper-middle and high-income people in the Portland area when the voters passed a new Multnomah County income tax "for the children" and a new Metro income tax "for the homeless." But things went from bad to worse when it was revealed that the City of Portland would be the collector for both new taxes. Those guys are ruthless.

Whoever wrote the new tax laws – they're identical in many respects, and I suspect the city was involved in drafting both – they decided that it wasn't enough to soak the rich once a year. No, taxpayers who don't have the taxes withheld at a place of employment are required to make quarterly estimated tax payments, or else pay a penalty. Even the infernal Tri-Met self-employment tax isn't that annoying.

Of course, Portland City Hall is no stranger to wicked estimated tax requirements. Whereas the federal IRS and the State of Oregon give you until January 15 to make your deposit for the fourth quarter's income taxes, the city makes taxpayers fork over the last quarter of the city and county business income taxes by December 15. Scrooge would be proud.

But they've really outdone themselves with the new county and Metro income taxes. If you don't pay quarterly, they say they're going to charge 10 percent interest – highway robbery, compared to the feds' 4 percent and Oregon's 4 percent. The two new tax ordinances give the city the authority to reduce the interest rate to what the state charges, but so far, there's no sign that the city is going to do anything of the sort. In addition to the 10 percent interest from the due dates, the city threatens a penalty of 5 percent of the unpaid quarterly taxes in certain cases.

But perhaps the most unkind aspect of the new estimated tax rules is that they don't cut taxpayers any slack, as every other jurisdiction does, if all their income comes in toward the end of the year. The county and Metro taxes appear to require that a quarter of the year's income taxes be paid in April, June, September, and January, even if all of the taxpayer's income for the year comes in in December. Now, that's just vicious.

Then they wonder why people move to Camas.


  1. The Dims have only one solution to every problem, put your hand on your wallet and cough. Vote them out of office.

  2. Not to mention the required supporting documentation that must be submitted; separate copies for each new tax:

    OR-40 plus Schedules -ASC and K-1

    Fed 1040, Schedules 1, B, C, D (plus 4797, 6252, 8824), E, F, 4868, W-2, 1099-R, K-1, 8582.

    Somehow the state can get by with just the 1040 but Portland needs all this.

  3. It has got to be a rare achievement for an American city to foment hatred of the arts, the homeless, and preschoolers, all at the same time. Keep Portland weird.

  4. We didn't move out of Portland for any substantive reason other than a job change that brought us across the river. But it is a real relief not to have to agonize anymore over the serial stupidity of Portland voters approving any tax or bond measure at all as long as one of the triggering keywords (equity, education, arts, homeless, transit, etc.) is attached.


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