Chipping Away at Property Tax Reform

As one of the few states without a general sales tax, Oregon depends heavily on property tax for revenue. Real property is taxed based on its value — know as ad valorem taxes. As real estate prices spiked in the 1990s — along with taxes — citizens began to become resentful of the tax windfall enjoyed by their governments. In 1996 the citizens of Oregon passed property tax reform as Measure 47. There were some technical problems with Measure 47, so in 1997, the Legislature sent Measure 50 to the voters, which fixed the problems by repealing Measure 47, but keeping the tax cuts.

For 1997-98, the assessed value of a property was set at 90 percent of the property’s 1995-96 assessed value. After 1998 the growth in assessed value was limited to three percent annually. New properties are calculated by multiplying the ratio of assessed to real market value for similar property in the county by that property’s real market value. This means that if you have a home where the assessment has been rising only three percent in 1989 and you build a similarly valued home nearby, the tax rates would be similar.

Property values, especially with the policies in Oregon, tends to increase at a rate greater than three percent, so over the decades, most properties have seen a huge gap between the real market value — what a home can sell for — and the assessed value, which is capped to increase at no more than three percent annually.

State Representative Rob Nosse (Democrat, HD-42) has introduced HJR 13 which proposes an amendment to Oregon Constitution providing that, for purposes of ad valorem property taxation, the ratio of maximum assessed value to real market value of property must be equal to three quarters of the market value.

It also exempts from ad valorem property taxes lesser of first $25,000 or first 25 percent of real market value of each homestead and requires the legislature to enact laws for administration of exemption, including adjusting $25,000 for inflation.

This means that property taxes would no longer be capped at three percent annually. They are only required to lag behind market value. The legislative revenue office has not done any analysis on what dollar amount this will raise, but it has to be significant, and will grow over the years.

As with all changes to the Oregon Constitution, only the people can do that, so this bill is a referral to the 2022 ballot. This resolution has not be scheduled for a hearing.

–Staff Reports

Published in the Northwest Observer, Feb 23, 2021


Date: 2021-02-24 07:22

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