Portland, Oregon’s Revenue Division released a report in June which suggested that a single company in the city might pay more than $3.7 million a year under a new tax proposed to generate revenue for renewable energy projects. This has created some conflict between city officials, with arguments occurring on if the tax burden to some companies is worth the investment in renewable energy sources.

The “Clean Energy and Justice Measure” proposal would create a 1% tax on the revenues of Portland-based “large retailers”. Companies would need to have global sales of more than a billion dollars to qualify for the tax. According to the report, the Revenue Division “does not recommend implementing the Measure as written.”

As the proposal currently stands, the money raised by the tax would create a fund to pay for renewable energy programs, local food production, and job training programs catering to “communities of color, women, and other traditionally under-represented and disadvantaged workers.”

The Revenue Division has proposed an alternative model for the tax proposal. It suggested applying the business tax to all large businesses, not only retailers so that the tax would also apply to companies/operations which contribute to carbon emissions, such as oil refineries or construction companies. The Revenue Division further suggests that a cap could be created to stop the tax a business might pay from increasing after $1 million. According to their calculations, the tweaks to the proposition would help the city raise between $66.9 million and $81.7 million a year, an improvement over the $35 and $51 million the original proposition would generate.

Furthermore, the revenue division says that “Some businesses will partially or wholly pass the [gross receipts tax] on to consumers in the form of a price increase.”

Those who are pushing the proposal forward may not agree with the conclusion of the report. Jo Ann Hardesty, a local NAACP leader has said that member’s are examining the study and that it will vote on the proposed changes sometime in mid-July. Hardesty is not excited about the new proposal.

“I don’t think most of our folks are excited about it. I think it’s a very convoluted proposal that they’ve given to us,” Hardesty said.

It remains to be seen if city officials and those pushing for proposition pass, including NAACP, Family Center (NAYA), Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO), Verde, the Sierra Club and more, can come to some agreement over the terms of the tax proposition.

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