Customers at Universal Cycles on SE Ankeny are greeted with these signs at the checkout counter. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)
Through three quarters of its first year in existence, Oregon’s $15 bicycle excise tax has added $489,000 into state coffers. That’s a lot lower than state economists expected. Overhead costs are also more than expected and are likely to climb even higher as officials beef up filing enforcement efforts.
As OPB reported last week, officials from the Department of Revenue, Oregon Department of Transportation and the Legislative Revenue Office have been updating lawmakers on receipts from the slew of new taxes and fees included in the $5.3 billion transportation package passed in 2017. Among them was the infamous $15 tax that applies to every new bicycle valued at $200 or higher sold in Oregon. [Read more…]
The bike tax is underperforming. (Photo: Jonathan Maus)
Receipts from the first quarter for the $15 tax on new bicycles have been tallied by the Oregon Department of Revenue.
As of May 16th, the agency says they’ve processed about $77,000 in bike tax payments. The tax went into effect on January 1st and first quarter receipts were due April 30th.
The first reporting of figures from the tax came last week from Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. They reported a total of $34,065 in gross receipts; but that figure was a bit premature because DOR had only started collecting payments last month. After the BRAIN story broke we contacted DOR asking for an updated number and an estimate of administrative overhead costs.
DOR Communications Operations Manager Joy Krawczyk clarified to us that, “The amount provided to Bicycle Retailer & Industry News was from our monthly agency financial statement and reflected bicycle excise tax payments processed as of April 30, 2018. April 30 was the due date for the first quarter of payments and returns for the new tax, so any payments we received just before, on, or after the due date may not have been included in our April financial statement.” [Read more…]
Members of the Joint Transportation Committee who voted in favor of an expansion to Oregon’s bike tax.
Without a single word of debate, the nine members of the Joint Committee on Transportation voted in favor of an expansion of Oregon’s bike tax that will result in it covering more children’s bicycles. (UPDATE: As of Saturday, March 3rd the full Oregon House and Senate passed the bill with a total vote margin of 70-10. The bill now awaits Governor Brown’s signature.)
This boys BMX bike is currently exempt from the tax. Lawmakers want to change that. (Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)
The Oregon Legislature is considering dozens of changes to the major transportation bill they passed last year. Among them are two substantive changes to the $15 bike tax.
The Oregon Department of Revenue (DOR) thinks the existing tax is too complicated and they want to make sure it captures as many bicycles as possible.
In a nutshell, if House Bill 4059 is signed by Governor Brown, the tax will apply to more bicycles than before. The proposal has caught the ire of national bike industry leaders who have written a letter to lawmakers opposing the idea. [Read more…]
Oregon’s infamous $15 bicycle excise tax goes into effect in just 20 days.
On January 1st, bicycle retailers across the state will have to be registered with the Department of Revenue (DOR) and have systems in place to collect and record the fee. To help make sure shops are ready, DOR has sent notices in the mail and has set up a website with more information.
We’ve been in touch with many Portland-based bike shops to hear how they’re feeling about it. So far we’ve heard a range of opinions. Some shop owners disagree with the tax in principle and/or have concerns about how it will impact their business, while others don’t think it’ll be that big of a deal.
As for the tax itself, the first order of business from the State’s perspective is to educate retailers. In a letter (PDF) sent to shops on December 4th, the DOR laid out the basics of the tax and offered answers to several frequently asked questions. [Read more…]
When news of Oregon’s silly new bike excise tax sunk in, some readers figured it was only a matter of time before a bike company or bike shop did a promotion around it.
California-based Santa Cruz Bicycles just launched the “Oregon Trail Tax” promotion. It’s their play on the new tax; but it comes with real and serious benefits to mountain bike trail advocacy groups.
I’m pinched for time today, so I’ll just share the press release:
Santa Cruz’s ‘Oregon Trail Tax’ riffs on state’s new bike tax to raise money for mountain bike trails
SANTA CRUZ, CALIF. – Santa Cruz Bicycles has responded to Oregon’s controversial new bicycle tax with a promotion that promises to deliver thousands of dollars to mountain bike projects across the state. Dubbed “The Oregon Trail Tax,” Santa Cruz will match the $15 per bike tax customers pay on every Santa Cruz and Juliana bike sold in Oregon starting September 1 and for the remainder of 2017. Proceeds will be split evenly between three trail advocacy organizations who build trails in the state–the Northwest Trail Alliance (NWTA), the Central Oregon Trail Alliance (COTA), and Team Dirt. [Read more…]
Until last week, I probably expressed more of my thoughts about Oregon’s new bike tax on Twitter than I had here on the blog.
Sometimes when I have a lot to say about a complicated, or sensitive, or generally unwieldy issue, it’s hard for me to organize all my thoughts into coherent sentences (I know, a bad trait for a writer).
So when a KATU (local ABC affiliate) producer reached out last week and asked if I’d be on their Your Voice, Your Vote show, I was happy to oblige. I was on the Sunday morning news show five years ago and had a great experience. Back then the topic was a proposal to license bicycle riders. After both myself and the man proposing the idea had a chance to explain our views in a neutral setting, the proposal went away and was never heard about again (hmm, I wonder why?).
Then and now, I relished the opportunity to explain my views in a calm and professional format with an experienced broadcast journalist as moderator. It’s the opposite of arguing on the Internet. [Read more…]
As part of his rationale, Scott says other types of vehicles pay a tax so it’s an issue of fairness. “If we’re not going to tax bicycles, then let’s not tax boats, ATVs and every other vehicle out there that already pay all these taxes… how many rights do we give to cyclists that we don’t give to everybody else on the road? I’m asking.” When someone reminded him that bicycles don’t damage the roads, Scott replied, “Snowmobiles don’t hurt the snow, ATV’s don’t hurt the dirt, boats don’t hurt the water and they pay a tax, maybe we should eliminate those taxes.”
U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer, who served six years in the Oregon House of Representatives and nearly 10 years as a Portland city commissioner, shared via a phone interview yesterday that he feels the tax is a “modest fee” that isn’t that big of a deal when viewed in the light of the overall infrastructure funding package.
I caught up with Blumenauer from his office in Washington D.C. where he’s standing against strong political winds.
“I think this is a really great opportunity for the cycling community to take a step back and think about the bigger picture,” he said.
Blumenauer probably knows more about the “bigger picture” than anyone in the bike advocacy game. He has fought for bicycle-related transportation funding for about 40 years. During that time he’s heard all the anti-bike arguments you can imagine.
“One of the arguments we hear repeatedly is that cyclists don’t have any skin in the game… so there’s been blowback.” Blumenauer thinks the “cyclists don’t pay” argument has only gotten louder as more money has gone to bike projects. During his tenure in politics, Blumenauer has seen Oregon implement the pioneering 1971 “Bicycle Bill” which sets aside 1 percent of all the state’s highway gas tax money for biking and walking infrastructure (which should equal about $3.7 million per year over ten years in the new bill. And federal programs like Safe Routes to School, Transportation Enhancements, and TIGER grants have funded billions in bike infrastructure. “That’s big money,” he said. [Read more…]
Read it and weep. Or rejoice, if you think it’s a great idea.
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. [Read more…]