SB 1593 Severance tax on timber harvest to replace harvest tax

SB 1593
Died In Committee

Status (overview) of bill:
Committee assigned to bill:

SB 1593 started off as an attempt to raise taxes on timber harvests and defund the Oregon Forest Resources Institute, but the votes weren’t there. So, instead, the bill has proposed amendment to just “study” the concept of a severance tax for separate private an public as a permanent funding for forests, fire safe communities, county services and drinking water protection through a timber severance tax assessed on the sale of timber harvested on private land. The private severance tax would be imposed on the stumpage value of unprocessed timber harvested on private land, in excess of the value of the first 25,000 feet, board measure, of unprocessed timber harvested annually by the taxpayer, based on the number of acres of private land held in common ownership according to stated tiers. The public severance tax would be imposed at the rate of five percent on the stumpage value of unprocessed timber harvested on public land, in excess of the value of the first 25,000 feet, board measure, of unprocessed timber harvested annually by a taxpayer.

The taxes would be imposed in lieu of the current forest product harvest taxes, which would be repealed. The highly scripted “study” actually just helps the bill sponsor make the case to pass what is already prescribed in the bill as a revised timber tax in 2025. It has raised the exclusions significantly, but how does that compare with the current harvest tax it will replace?

ORIGINAL BILL: This bill would impose a new tax on the gross proceeds from the sale of unprocessed timber cut on private land larger than 500 acres held in common ownership. The Act would provide funding to counties and to protect homes, neighborhoods and water supplies from wildfire damage. The Act would repeal the current forest products harvest tax. The Act will be referred to the people at the 2024 general election. 

Wildfire protection on private land in Oregon is generally split between landowners and the state’s General Fund. But in the case of catastrophic fires, like those seen in 2020, it’s the General Fund that covers the bulk of catastrophic costs.

The department says about 30% of the 16 million acres of land that the forestry department protects is privately owned by industrial timber companies. The rest is owned by ranchers, rural residential homeowners and state, federal and tribal governments, all of whom pay varying fees per acre of land for the department’s fire protection. Between 2023 and 2024, the average per-acre price of that wildfire protection went up 29%. Increases were highest for eastern Oregon landowners and grazers,

Media reports that counties have lost at least $3 billion in revenues in three decades. How much revenue is lost by ODF limiting timber harvesting and now they want to limit it more?

Sen. Jeff Golden, D-Ashland, wants a tax on the value of industrial timber harvests to pay for protection that he says disproportionately benefits private forest owners.



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