taxes small

Oregon Business & Industry (OBI) has launched an effort to refer the city of Salem’s recently adopted payroll tax to voters.

On July 10, the Salem City Council voted 5-4 to adopt a nearly 1% payroll tax despite overwhelming opposition during public comment. The new tax will be a significant burden for employees, exacerbating the effects of steadily rising inflation and providing an incentive to seek work outside of Salem or stop coming to Salem for portions of work as they otherwise might have. For employers, the tax will create a significant compliance burden, especially for those with employees who work on the road, at various job sites, or on hybrid schedules.

“OBI is headquartered in Salem, and we care deeply about this community. We have no problem with Salem or any other city asking voters to support levies for important local services. However, this proposal is vague, the tax is high, the administrative burden is significant, and there is little assurance as to how funds will be spent. At a minimum the community deserves a chance to vote,” said Angela Wilhelms, OBI’s president and CEO.

Preston Mann, OBI’s director of political affairs and a Salem resident, filed the petition on July 14. The city approved OBI’s petition that same day. Approximately 4,000 valid signatures from Salem voters are due Aug. 9 to refer this to the November 2023 ballot. To account for possible errors and ensure success, OBI aims to submit 6,000 signatures. Time is of the essence.

Visit to find out how to sign a petition, circulate a petition among neighbors and friends, or contribute to the campaign.


OBI is a statewide association representing businesses from a wide variety of industries and from each of Oregon’s 36 counties. In addition to being the statewide chamber of commerce, OBI is the state affiliate for the National Association of Manufacturers and the National Retail Federation. Our 1,600 member companies, more than 80% of which are small businesses, employ more than 250,000 Oregonians. Oregon’s private sector businesses help drive a healthy, prosperous economy for the benefit of everyone.