With passage in the Senate today, Oregon’s transportation bill is headed to the Governor’s desk for signing.
We’ve got lots more coverage planned, but there’s one thing that I felt should be singled out. Take a deep breath and consider this: Oregon is now the only state in America with a bicycle excise tax.
The tax was opposed by small business owners, advocacy groups, and by many voters; but the political winds were simply too much to overcome. I have some thoughts about how we got to this point that I’ll share in a future post. For now, here are the final details of the bike tax:
- It’s a $15 flat tax instead of the 4-5% tax initially proposed.
- Applies to new bicycles with a wheel diameter of 26-inches or larger and a retail price of $200 or more.
- Expected to raise $1.2 million per year and cost $100,000 per year to administer.
- Funds will go into the Connect Oregon program and be set aside specifically, “for the purposes of grants for bicycle and pedestrian transportation projects… that expand and improve commuter routes for nonmotorized vehicles and pedestrians, including bicycle trails, footpaths and multiuse trails.”
- Tax will be collected by bicycle retailers and they’ll be required to file quarterly returns with the Department of Revenue.
- Bicycle retailers are required to keep receipts and records pertaining the collection of the tax for a minimum of five years.
- The tax will go into effect 91 days after the legislative session ends (that’d be October 8th if it ends on July 10th as scheduled).
So there you have it. We are taxing the healthiest, most inexpensive, most environmentally friendly, most efficient, and most economically sustainable form of transportation ever devised by the human species.
Oregon’s ranking as a bike-friendly state has slipped in recent years in part because we have a law that mandates use of a “sidepath” if no bike lane is present. I wonder what the League of American Bicyclists will do to our ranking when they hear about this?
The only way to like this tax is to think 1) it will quell the anger from people who think, “Those bicyclists don’t pay their fair share!” (it won’t) or 2) you think the money it raises for infrastructure outweighs the potential disincentive to new bike buyers, the erosion of profits from bike retailers, and the absurdity of it on principle alone.
Time will tell I suppose.