Bill adds ‘humans’ to legal definition of taxable bicycle in Oregon

Posted by on January 22nd, 2021 at 5:08 pm

Screen grab of LC 2448. Words in bold are additions to existing law.

Here’s something light to end the week…

We’ve been scouring the Oregon Legislative Information System lately to find all the bills worth tracking for transportation advocates this session. One thing we’ve come across is a 93-page omnibus bill (LC 2448 at the moment) that has some interesting nuggets. I’ll share more about it as the session unfolds. For now I want to share Section 34 of the bill.

It caught my eye because it pertains to one of the Oregon Revised Statutes that is near and dear to my heart: the definition of “bicycle”. Specifically, it pertains to how “bicycle” is defined for purposes of applying the Bicycle Excise Tax which was passed into law in 2017. As it stands now, the statutory definition of a bicycle in ORS 320.400 is: “A vehicle that is designed to be operated on the ground on wheels and is propelled exclusively by human power” (which is based on the full definition of bicycle in ORS 801.150).

LC 2448 would amend that definition so that it includes (in bold), “A vehicle that is designed to be operated on the ground on wheels for the transportation of humans and is propelled exclusively by human power;”

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Don’t go trying to tax customers for buying one of these, in case you were wondering. (Photo: x1Brett/Flickr)

That struck me as odd and I wondered what the impetus for the change was. I emailed ODOT Economist Daniel Porter to find out more. He was able to confirm that the amendment came from the Department of Revenue who wants to clarify the rules that govern the Bicycle Excise Tax. Porter shared with me via email that their intent is to, “Tax just bicycles that we ride, not something like a fancy wheelbarrow.”

I asked Porter if this was a problem that was coming up at DOR. As in, were people trying to tax fancy wheelbarrows or other two-wheeled conveyances that weren’t built for the specific purpose of transporting humans? “No,” Porter replied, “they just wanted to make sure there wouldn’t be a problem at some point in the future.”

This isn’t the first time DOR has tweaked the bike tax law. In 2018 they expanded it to include a wider range of bikes.

LC 2448 is currently being reviewed by lawmakers in the Joint Transportation Committee. It’s on the agenda again for their January 26th meeting.

Have a good weekend everyone. And don’t forget to follow @BikePortland on Twitter and Instagram for live updates from the Flanders Crossing Bridge installation tomorrow. If you see me down there, ring a bell or say “Hi!” (from a distance of course).

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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bjorn
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bjorn

This bill seems like a good vehicle to amend in such a way as to eliminate the bicycle tax.

SD
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SD

What about skateboards, skates and unicycles?
If I buy a bicycle for a monkey, can I forego the tax?

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

In Russia we have special bicycle for trained bear. Is exempt from Imperialist swine bicycle tax.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

So a pedicab or other bicycle-like vehicle that uses a robot for power is presumably not a bicycle, and therefor is not taxed?

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

Correct. Weird that they’d leave a loophole for a situation that doesn’t exist and has no chance of existing for the foreseeable future

David Hampsten
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David Hampsten

velodrone

Mike Ard
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Mike Ard

Looks to me like an e-bike is not a bicycle per this definition. It isn’t “exclusively” human powered.

Also, a jogging stroller is apparently a bicycle?

CaptainKarma
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CaptainKarma

At the behest of Amazon, to chisel a few more bucks away from the commons.

qqq
Guest
qqq

The only reason that revision would be needed to distinguish bicycles from wheelbarrows would be if wheelbarrows are considered to be “vehicles”. From
https://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/801.590:
““Vehicle.” “Vehicle” means any device in, upon or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a public highway and includes vehicles that are propelled or powered by any means. “Vehicle” does not include a manufactured structure.”

“Highway” (per https://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/801.305) “means every public way, road, street, thoroughfare and place, including bridges, viaducts and other structures within the boundaries of this state, open, used or intended for use of the general public for vehicles or vehicular traffic as a matter of right.”

I don’t think (but am not sure) wheelbarrows are used in places that meet the definition of highway due to the “used or intended for use..” wording. However, the State clearly does consider wheelbarrows to be vehicles, otherwise there’d be no need for the revision.

It seems like the revision may be solving a problem that doesn’t exist. But in any case, it seems like it would be tough to argue that the bicycle revision is needed, but clarification of the “vehicle” definition (to exclude wheelbarrows, for instance) is not.

Sam
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Sam

“propelled exclusively by human power” would exclude electric bikes, wouldn’t it? Are electric bikes defined separately?

Mike Quigley
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Mike Quigley

How much is the tax? Fifteen bucks paid only one time. Get over it.

Caleb
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Caleb

Your comment is rather dismissive. Some people struggle affording a bicycle in the first place.

 
Guest
 

Remove the bike tax, raise the income tax. No need for a flat tax on bikes that disproportionately hurts the poor and working class. Instead let’s put a 70% tax on all annual income above $400,000 and significantly tax large SUVs and pickup trucks; make the rich and those who disproportionately damage the roads pay their fair share

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Or you could have a statewide 5% sales tax on all goods and services, so your $500 bike would have a $25 tax on it, and the typical $2,500 electric bike buyer would pay an extra $125! Then you would have real “skin in the game” as TST would say.

Caleb
Guest
Caleb

Did you not read “No need for a flat tax on bikes that disproportionately hurts the poor and working class”? A statewide sales tax does that, even if it proportionately taxes those who can afford $2500 bikes.

FDUP
Guest
FDUP

Eliminate the bicycle tax, lower income and property taxes, and implement a state-wide sales tax.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Considering that cars/trucks have a sales tax of $0 in this state. No, I will not get over it.

Roberta
Guest
Roberta

I just perused the transport bills. A whole lot of pathetic bills from Republicans. And an over emphasis on electric vehicles by the Democrats. Remember its not Oregon’s role to be the test state for the entire USA. Maybe we should wait for other states to come up with good policy on electrification. We don’t want to be the crash test dummies anymore. Stop testing wonky transport policy in Portland.

There’s 2-4 bills I would support: The HB2917 equity in priority funding, sponsored by Rep. Williams from Hood River. And SB395 Bike Bill sponsored by Prozanski.

IDK if I should voice my support for anything.

The Oregon Republicans seem to follow my policy ideas on “destroy and take down mode” (from a policy level). For instance: One bill would prohibit ODOT from lowering speeds on freeways. And the other would require aux lanes for tolling. Obviously these two bills will go no where, meant to waste our time and the Oregon Republicans are grasping for anything.

Maybe I should run against Cliff Bentz a (US House Rep) and take out the highest ranking Oregon Republican? I’m in that district now. He voted against impeachment and for dismissing other states votes.

That is how you really move policy, start running campaigns against Republicans. Nobody wants a primary competitor. You may not win but you will move policy decisions. We can all learn that from Teresa Raiford.

John J Speth
Guest
John J Speth

It seems that definition excludes motorized bicycles with which I share roads and trails just about every day.

Paul
Guest
Paul

It’s in the line right below the bolded line.

Harald
Guest

IANAL, but wouldn’t this exclude cargo bikes? Arguably, the purpose of a cargo bike (at least in commercial use) is not to transport the person pedaling it but its non-human cargo.

qqq
Guest
qqq

IANAL, but I agree.

Phil M
Guest
Phil M

Don’t pay the tax! It’s easy enough to assemble a bike yourself or even find a whole bike at one of the many outdoor bike shops located around the city.

Josh Chernoff
Guest

Why don’t these wheelbarrows just use the sidewalk or pay their dam share of the taxes.

S
Guest
S

So a stroller with a human in it being pushed by a human is a bicycle?

qqq
Guest
qqq

Strollers are excluded (the excerpt at the top of the article cuts off the last several exclusions). Full thing: https://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/320.400

However, strollers do look like they meet the definition of “vehicles” (
https://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/801.590 ) which sounds odd, but then again the State views apparently views wheelbarrows as vehicles.

mark smith
Guest
mark smith

Which is why all things or no things should be taxed at the point of retail sales…but alas..Oregon is weird and people must feel (incorrectly) they are sales tax free.

X
Guest
X

I regret that the bike tax hurts a few people that really can’t afford it. All things being equal, fewer bikes will be sold.

The original bill fails as a tax measure, its stated purpose. In a lifetime it will capture exactly $0.00 from me, a regular road user, and direct no more of my money toward stuff that I might want. Overhead costs actually take away tax money that I paid into the general fund.

This patch won’t fix that problem. The bike tax was a spiteful waste of time.

Frank Selker
Guest
Frank Selker

Brings back fond memories of “transporting” (and usually dumping) my siblings and kids in wheelbarrows.