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Study Quantifies Soaring Oregon, Portland Business Taxes

Oregon’s state business tax burden has increased nearly 45% since 2019. In Portland, meanwhile, local business taxes have increased 32% over the same period.

These are just two of the findings contained in OBI’s latest report on Oregon’s state and local business tax burden. The report, by national accounting firm Ernst & Young, examines the effects of state and local tax changes that have occurred since 2019.

Other key findings include:

  • The combined state and local business tax burden has risen almost 29% since 2019.
  • Oregon’s business tax burden now exceeds those in neighboring states California, Idaho and Washington.
  • In 2019, Oregon’s statewide business taxes were the nation’s 38th highest. They’re now the 21st highest.

The rise in Portland’s business tax burden has been particularly striking. Driven by a collection of city, county and regional taxes, local taxes on Portland businesses have increased 32%, on top of state increases, since 2019. Meanwhile, the city now has the nation’s second highest combined state and local individual income tax rate. At 14.69%, the city’s combined rate trails only New York’s 14.78%. Notably, Portlanders start paying the highest rate at $125,000 of annual income. New Yorkers must earn $25 million.

The report, which updates a 2020 review of the state’s business tax burden, was funded by the OBI Research and Education Foundation. Go here to read the full report and here to view a set of slides containing top-level findings.


Notable News

Portland Homelessness: Portland City Council considered a series of resolutions Wednesday to reduce unsanctioned camping, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported. The plan involves the establishment of three city-sanctioned camping sites. OBI President Angela Wilhelms testified in favor of the resolutions and provided written testimony as well. Meanwhile, The Oregonian has asked the three leading gubernatorial candidates to share their plans to reduce homelessness.

Economy Grows: The U.S. economy grew 2.6% in the third quarter, The Wall Street Journal reports. However, it showed signs of a slowdown as consumer and business spending faltered.


Vision Oregon Wrap-Up

Thank you to our sponsors and all of those who attended our 2022 Vision Oregon Event last week. OBI honored Scott Hamlin, founder and CEO of Looptworks, and Dutch Bros with our prestigious Oregon Visionary Awards. To watch a tribute video of Hamlin, go here. For a tribute video of Dutch Bros, go here.

We also heard from Oregon business leaders Tim Boyle, Amy Prosenjak, and Jessica Gomez about the challenges and opportunities they face doing business throughout Oregon and in their respective industries. OBI’s next signature event will be the 2023 Annual Meeting in Salem next spring. Stay tuned for more details.


Rulemaking and Task Force Update

Commute Options: OBI Policy Director Sharla Moffett met with DEQ staff on Oct. 27, to share OBI’s concerns about proposed commute options rules. As explained in comments submitted Oct. 10, the rules would create significant cost and compliance burdens for employers across the state. Currently, the state’s commute-options rules focus on the Portland metro area. The proposal under consideration would apply to employers who have 100 or more employees (full- or part-time) at a worksite within cities containing at least 10,000 people or within a metropolitan planning organization (MPO). Oregon has 68 cities of at least 10,000 people as well as eight MPOs.

Affected employers would have to develop plans to reduce commuting trips by 10%. To show how they would reduce trips, employers would have to choose from a menu of weighted trip-reduction options. These include providing access to van pools to at least half of their employees, subsidizing e-mobility memberships (electric scooters and bikes) and offering free or subsidized transit passes. The rules disregard whether public transportation is even viable in a community due to available infrastructure, let alone an employee’s work hours. The trip-reduction options favor laptop-class employees in industries that can easily support remote work and discriminate against manufacturing, retail, hospitality and other industries that require employees to work on-site. They also encourage highly regressive policies such as eliminating paid parking.

Read more about this program on OBI’s website and on the Department of Environmental Quality’s website. If you’d like to express concerns about the program, please email Karen Font Williams at If you have questions, please email Sharla Moffett at

Retail Crime: The Organized Retail Crime Task Force involving OBI and partner organizations met for the second time Oct. 25. The meeting featured a panel of online retailers as well as a panel of law enforcement experts, who shared best practices. Organized retail crime has become a significant problem in Oregon, and the task force is intended to bring together the state attorney general, district attorneys, law enforcement agencies, unions and retailers to identify common problems, share information and identify organized criminal networks. The next meeting will take place Nov. 15 and feature more direct involvement from law enforcement as well as a discussion about information-sharing technology.

Pay Equity Law and Signing Bonuses: An exception to Oregon’s pay equity law that allowed employers to offer hiring and retention bonuses without conducting equity analyses expired at the end of September. A legislative fix is required to address the problem, and OBI has requested the introduction of a bill that would create a permanent pay-equity exemption for such bonuses. The bill is being drafted with the expectation that it will be introduced during the 2023 legislative session. As OBI talks with legislators about this issue, it would be helpful to share real-world stories illustrating the value of signing and retention bonuses and the problems caused by effectively banning them. To share yours, please reach out to Paloma Sparks at


Member News

ENTEK Honor: ENTEK has been chosen as part of the first set of projects funded by the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to expand domestic manufacturing of batteries for electric vehicles and the electric grid and for materials and components that are currently imported. Watch ENTEK President Kim Medford’s comments during a White House press conference here. OBI submitted a letter in support of ENTEK’s grant application.


Upcoming Webinars

Dec. 9: Oregon Health Care Policy, Program Update

Oregon health-care task forces and program managers have been busy in recent months. The Task Force on Universal Health Care recently released its final report and recommendations for the for the Legislature. The Task force on the Bridge Health Care Program released its preliminary program design recommendations. Meanwhile, Oregon Health Authority staff have tracked health care spending under the Sustainable Health Care Cost Growth Target Program. There’s a lot going on, and the 2023 Legislature is likely to consider significant expansions in health-care spending and services.

Join our webinar and learn more about the state of health care in Oregon. We’ll be joined by Trilby de Jung, deputy director of OHA’s Health Policy and Analytics Division, and Sarah Bartelmann, manager of the Sustainable Health Care Cost Growth Target Program.

Date: Friday, Dec. 9

Time: 11 a.m. to noon

To Register: Go here


Watch Recent Webinars

Are You Ready for Paid Leave Oregon?

Watch a recording here.

Oregon’s new paid family and medical leave insurance program, Paid Leave Oregon, will soon become operational. Employers must submit payroll contributions to fund the program beginning Jan. 1, and employees can start applying for benefits on Sept. 3. In the meantime, many employers are weighing whether to participate in the state-administered leave program or an equivalent program offered by an insurance provider.

This webinar covered much of what employers need to know as Jan. 1 approaches. It features Laura Rosenbaum, an employment attorney with Stoel Rives, and Jessica Bolar, senior product manager for paid family and medical leave with The Standard.


Managing Claims Costs with Return to Work Services

Watch a recording here.

Experts with SAIF explained how employers can manage the post-injury process, get their employees back to work and mitigate claim costs using the Return to Work services team at SAIF and the Employer-at-Injury and Preferred Worker Program benefits. The webinar was offered through OBI’s CompSAFE program.


OSHA Heat and Smoke Rules

Watch a recording here.

Experts with Oregon OSHA provided an overview of the recently adopted heat and smoke rules and answered questions from OBI members.


Union Organizing Dos and Don’ts

Watch a recording here.

Attorney Nicole Elgin with Barran Liebman LLP explained what managers and supervisors should know, do and not do when confronted by a union organizing drive.


Oregon Business Plan Update

Watch a recording here.

Oregon Business Council President Duncan Wyse delivered a midyear progress report on the Oregon Business Plan and answered questions from webinar participants.


Student Success Act Implementation

Watch a recording here.

Officials with the Oregon Department of Education joined OBI to discuss the implementation of the 2019 Student Success Act, which generates roughly $1 billion per year for education through the state’s corporate activity tax.