A trial to raise the plan rules for $ 250 million a year is scheduled for June 21st.
Questions continue to revolve around the legality of the income taxes Metro plans to levy from July 1 to fund homeless services.
The US $ 250 million per year electoral measure was approved by voters of the elected regional government in the May 2020 primaries. The Multnomah County Circuit Court has not yet approved Metro’s motion to review the legality of its tax collection rules. In fact, a rule challenge trial is scheduled for June 21st, just over a week before individuals, couples and corporations are held liable for it.
Even so, Multnomah County’s chairwoman Deborah Kafoury added $ 55 million as the county’s share of taxes to the budget, which she plans to put into effect July 1. She says the money will significantly reduce homelessness in the county by providing necessary services to the homeless and those at risk of homelessness. It is expected to rise to $ 100 million in the coming years.
The lawsuit was brought by a coalition of businesses and business organizations, including the Portland Business Alliance. They agree that Metro has the right to collect the taxes approved by the voters. However, they argue that the rules must be consistent with the Oregon Treasury Department’s rules for collecting such taxes. Metro’s rules are different, meaning that businesses in the area will have to bear the cost of filing different returns and, in some cases, may pay more taxes than the state would levy on the same income.
Metro admits that its rules are different but argues that they are legal because they were passed under the 1992 electoral charter of house rules. Both sides have filed extensive and detailed files setting out the intricacies of numerous court judgments on tax law and the authority of house rules charters.
Judge Steffan Alexander will conduct the hearing remotely.
The measure was approved by a majority of voters in all three districts within Metro’s jurisdiction in the May 2020 elections. A 1% income tax is levied on individuals earning $ 125,000 annually or couples who collectively earn $ 200,000. It also includes a 1% tax on companies that generate $ 5 million annually.
The funds will be distributed to Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas counties to support services designed to prevent people from losing their homes and to keep the chronically homeless in their subsidized homes. Districts must submit plans to Metro to issue their share of the funds for approval.
The measure came into effect on January 1st. Metro signs a deal with the City of Portland to collect the taxes.
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