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Oregon Lawmakers Unveil Business Tax Proposal

File photo of the ''Oregon Pioneer'' sculpture that sits atop the Oregon State Capitol in Salem.
Chris Lehman
/
Northwest News Network
File photo of the ''Oregon Pioneer'' sculpture that sits atop the Oregon State Capitol in Salem.

Oregon lawmakers have unveiled a proposed business tax that’s meant to help bridge a $1.6 billion budget shortfall.

The new tax would be a “gross receipts tax,” and would replace the existing corporate income tax. Unlike an income tax, the gross receipts tax would be levied on a company’s overall sales, not its profits.

The proposal is the product of a behind-the-scenes work group led by Sen. Mark Hass. The Beaverton Democrat unveiled the plan to a meeting of a new legislative panel created to turn the proposal into something that's politically and economically viable.

Hass acknowledged the group has its work cut out for it.

"This is not going to be a resolution to honor a basketball team, or the state pie, or the state cake,” Has said. “This will be hard."

The proposal has some similarities to a gross receipts tax rejected by Oregon voters last fall. This one would apply to a broader range of companies, but at a lower overall rate.

One prominent business group immediately threw cold water on the proposal, calling it "a step backwards."

Copyright 2017 Northwest News Network

Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.