Oregon lawmakers want to rollback critical coronavirus relief policies, raise taxes by $225 million

Oregon lawmakers will hold a public hearing this week on a proposal to rollback critical coronavirus relief policies to the tune of nearly $225 million. The policies, which were expanded as part of the federal CARES Act, provide Oregonians with much-needed tax relief by allowing them to count business losses against their taxable income. In short, the policies allow a business owner whose business is losing money to factor in their businesses losses when determining their income tax liability. The end result could lead to an approximately $225 increase in taxes on Oregon employers in the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression.

While some lawmakers and special interest groups contend that these policies “subsidize” wealthy business owners, the reality is that these bipartisan coronavirus relief policies are critical to helping businesses and entrepreneurs stay afloat during the unprecedented economic crisis that has accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic. Many businesses saw their sales go from record highs to near zero practically overnight. The fallout has left thousands of Oregonians unemployed, forced countless businesses to close their doors or take on loans to stay afloat, and will ultimately take years for our economy to fully recover from. In the face of such overwhelming challenges, business leaders need our support, not higher tax bills.

As the coronavirus pandemic enters its six month and with no end in sight, state lawmakers must prioritize policies that put cash in the hands of businesses and entrepreneurs so they can have a fighting chance at survival. Disconnecting from CARES Act tax relief policies would effectively deny Oregon business the opportunity to fully access federal assistance programs and place a tremendous burden on our state’s private sector at a time when it has never been more vulnerable. Revoking these policies puts businesses and jobs at risk. It’s the wrong approach at the wrong time, and lawmakers should look elsewhere to shore up the state’s budget deficit.

OMC will oppose this policy if it is brought to a vote in next week’s special session and will continue to fight to protect Oregon employers from new tax increases as the pandemic continues.

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