Taxation with a vengeance

I see that some taxpayers are unhappy with the nasty notices they just got saying they failed to pay their Multnomah County preschool tax and their Metro homeless tax last year. They're being socked with interest and penalties for not forking over those new taxes, which they say they never heard of. TurboTax didn't tell them, although it does warn people about the Tri-Met self-employment tax and the Portland city and Multnomah County business taxes. I guess even TurboTax can't keep up with all the different ways the local governments have come up with of fleecing the upper middle class in Portland.

Good luck, unhappy taxpayers, because the two new taxes you didn't know about are being administered amd collected by the City of Portland revenue bureau, and those guys are vicious. I'd much rather deal with 64,000 armed IRS agents than with the City Hall revenuers. I've written before about how cutthroat they are. Nothing's changed since then.

The county and Metro decided to let the city be their tax collector, and that's not exactly a way to build taxpayer goodwill. Contrast that with Tri-Met, which farms out the administration of its wicked taxes to the state Department of Revenue. The Salem revenuers seem to be at least a tiny bit kinder and gentler than the sadists at City Hall.

But anyway, yeah, folks, you now owe two new taxes to go with all your old ones. And don't forget your Portland arts tax. It's $35 a head. But amazingly, it's not an illegal "head tax"! Go figure.

And in May the sheep will vote in yet another Multnomah County income tax so that deadbeat tenants can have a free lawyer to jerk their landlords around with.

You see that little 'burb across the big river? It's called the 'Couve. It's never looked better, has it?


  1. I understand that the state refused to administer the new taxes as it does with Tri-Met, unclear whether they asked nice or not. If only they applied the same strict approach to expenditures instead of writing endless big checks to opaque non-profits with insider collections.

  2. Like Mean girls!! Same self righteous attitude toward people who qualify for the tax.

  3. One could make the case that dark forces took over some time ago and have been deliberately screwing up all things governance in Portland and Oregon? Is it all just the result of perpetual meddling by chronically inept people, who mean well? Or a long practical joke? Eugene has banned gas appliances in new residences. Boy, there's some kind of dark & dumb progress.

    1. I can see the wisdom of banning gas appliances in new construction. It’s a small step, but it’s a step.

    2. A small step? To what? It's pure left wing lunacy that has no upside at all. Certainly no anything atmospheric, climate or any weather.

    3. To health. Breathing methane from gas appliances is not healthy. People used to smoke indoors all the time too. Things change with more data. Science!

    4. You're parroting rubbish. There is no health problem with a gas cooktop. Other gas appliances vent to the outdoors. Harmlessly so. Despite the deranged climate crusader claims. Which is why Eugene banned gas in new residences.

  4. People assume that automated systems don’t cost anything to operate when the opposite is true (we occasionally see private sector stories doing the same thing). You probably know that 6404(e) allows the IRS to abate small dollar amounts which eliminates the need to send out notices on an annual basis (that’s the lowest frequency). I don’t think the thresh-hold has changed in over 40+ years—and, yes, I’ve pointed it out.

    As your post suggests the costs of preparing, mailing and processing responses (opening envelopes, associating the money with the account, ...) is likely multiples of the $2.96 you mentioned in your prior post. But, were it not for this 6404(e), the IRS would likely do the same thing as Multnomah County and the City of Portland and send out billing notices at least annually.

    In the IRS’ case, I pointed out that the abatement threshold should be updated/multiplied to prevent waste (the cost to send out notices and processing payments at the taxing authority’s level; the fees charged by banks/credit card companies; sending additional dunning letters and so on particularly when viewed on a return-on-investment level). The city/county could save money by either abating small amounts, waiting until there are additional charges sufficient to warrant sending out an omnibus notice or (most likely) by offsetting money due the taxpayer from the city/county/state such as a kicker refund.

    I used a search engine to see what other public sector organizations do and found one that actually published their criteria: “Invoices will not be processed if the amount is less than $5.00. Billing areas could accumulate small charges to the same customer until they total $5.00 or more.” If I were in charge of sending out the bills, I’d try to read the “could” to “are not required to accumulate charges of less than $5.00 and may abate the balance”.

    Apparently, the city and county don’t give their billing departments that kind of authority and woodenly sending out bills that (even if paid) cost more to process than they bring in (or from a different point-of-view a lower return-on-investment than if the employees’ time resources was spent on larger amounts). Of course they can decide to develop criteria to prevent themselves from the waste described above.

    I’m not sure why the city/county haven’t added the ARTS tax (or the taxes you’re complaining of) to the state’s form 40 (or if that’s possible). If it is, the automated services (e.g., turbotax) would do the work of adding it on to the other taxes and that would allow the city/county to easily offset refunds.

    As it is, I get the most ‘fun’ out of the situation that I can. When I’m downtown, I stop by the tax office to file and pay my ARTS tax in person. One of their people comes to the counter and—of course--I ask for a receipt for the return and payment which they provide by photocopying the check and stamping it received. And I point out the above every year—no one is listening.


Post a Comment

The platform used for this blog is awfully wonky when it comes to comments. It may work for you, it may not. It's a Google thing, and beyond my control. Apologies if you can't get through. You can email me a comment at, and if it's appropriate, I can post it here for you.