Ending the Corporate Kicker was a really great idea

Thanks to Measure 85... $92 million that would have gone to mostly out-of-state corporations will now go to schools.

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Thanks to a great decision voters made back in 2012, we just invested $92 million into Oregon schools that would’ve gone to out-of-state corporations. Give yourself a high-five!

Here’s what’s happening:

Under Oregon’s unique and ill-conceived kicker law, higher-than-projected income tax revenues are returned (or kicked back) to taxpayers. It’s bad public policy because income projections are hard to make two years in advance, and kicking back the money over projections makes it hard for the state to save resources for a rainy day. A while back, the kicker was shoved into the Oregon Constitution, so even simple changes to the law require a statewide vote. There are separate kickers for personal income taxes and corporate income taxes. In 2007, when Oregon’s economy was headed toward a recession that we’re still recovering from, Oregon handed back $1 billion of corporate tax revenue. That was a bitter pill to swallow, as thousands of teachers were laid off and schools and critical social services got cut to the bone due to lack of funding.

[E]ven after reclaiming the corporate kicker for our education system, we still have the country’s lowest corporate taxes.

Tired of kicking taxes back to big corporations, in 2012 Oregon voters approved Measure 85, which directs the corporate income tax kicker into K-12 education. And thanks to Measure 85, the state economist just reported $92 million that would have gone to mostly out-of-state corporations will now go to schools. That revenue will directly impact students across the state.

That’s good news for Oregon students, but even after reclaiming the corporate kicker for our education system, we still have the country’s lowest corporate taxes. Most corporations pay a very low minimum tax — and hundreds of large corporations used tax loopholes to pay no corporate income taxes at all.

These large and out-of-state corporations make millions of dollars from the business they do in Oregon, but because they can pay low minimum taxes, we have to foot the bill — and we get left with one of the nation’s largest class sizes and insurmountably long waiting lists for social services. At a time of record corporate profits, it’s time for out-of-state corporations to pay their fair share. We know they can afford it.

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