Building Our Future Together
The only exception in Measure 26-238’s new tax on families, seniors, and small business owners? Big corporations — they won’t pay a dime.
That’s right: Measure 26-238 creates an unlimited, adjustable tax on capital gains that applies to everyone living in Multnomah County – including seniors, small business owners, and families — regardless of income or ability to pay. Capital gains aren’t just for rich people. It includes any profit from things like selling your home, your retirement account, owning a small business or being self-employed, property you inherited, modest investments and more. But unlike other taxes on capital gains, Measure 26-238 has no income threshold or exemptions — even for a primary residence.
This adjustable tax can keep going up every year with no limit. And the biggest corporations won’t pay anything — no matter how much they profit in our community!
There is good news for renters facing evictions in Multnomah County: The voter-approved Metro Supportive Housing Services tax is already funding programs to help protect renters facing eviction – including free legal services. These dollars have already funded free attorneys for nearly 600 households, and prevented evictions for over 9,300 households in Multnomah County.
Measure 26-238: No limits. No safeguards. No fair. No need. NO THANK YOU.
Vote NO on Measure 26-238 by May 16!
“At the most basic level, [Measure 26-238] is deeply flawed… it fail[s] to explicitly exempt profits from the sale of primary residences, as federal tax law does. That means a retired senior living on a modest income who sells his or her home could have to pay the tax on decades of appreciated value… If 26-238 passes, many county residents may incur tax liabilities this year they didn’t know about…We encourage voters to reject this sloppy, unnecessary measure..”
– Willamette Week Editorial Board Endorsement, April 26, 2023
Why vote NO on Measure 26-238?
Measure 26-238 creates a new adjustable tax on all Multnomah County residents. The rate can change every year, and there’s no limit on how high it will go.
Almost every other eviction representation program in the country is dedicated to supporting lower income tenants who can’t afford to hire an attorney. But Measure 26-238 has no limit on tenant eligibility—even a high-income renter can get a free attorney paid for by taxpayers, no matter the reason for the eviction notice.
Unlike other taxes on capital gains, Measure 26-238 has no income threshold or exemptions. Even people with very low or fixed incomes are subject to this tax – such as a person on disability or a retiree on Social Security who needs to sell personal property to pay their bills.
“Tens of thousands of taxpayers who are not currently required to file a personal income tax return for Metro or Multnomah County and potentially even the state of Oregon will be required to file this return,” the City of Portland’s Revenue Division Director recently told Willamette Week.
Families and local small and medium sized businesses will have to pay this tax, while big corporations are off the hook – no matter how much they profit from our community. Wealthy investors who do business here but live outside of Multnomah County won’t be taxed either.
Most people count on their modest investments, especially homeownership, for economic stability and to take care of their families and their futures. Even a small profit from selling a home, saving for retirement with investments, or building a small business would be penalized under Measure 26-238.
Multnomah County already has tax-funded programs to help renters facing eviction. The Metro Supportive Housing Services tax provides more than $100 million each year for homelessness services and prevention, including rent assistance and free legal representation. So far funds have provided free attorneys for nearly 600 households, and prevented evictions for 9,348 households in Multnomah County.
Additionally, the Oregon Legislature just approved a new law that slows down the eviction process, requires landlords to give tenants information about existing programs and resources, and allocates millions more for eviction prevention.
No Thank You!
Good intentions don’t always result in good policy. According to Willamette Week, “the costs of administering the tax could consume more than 50% of the revenue.” And thanks to high collection startup costs, “the measure is likely to cost $19.3 million in its first year—far more than it’s expected to raise.” That means the Measure 26-238 tax likely won’t fund eviction protection programs until at least 2025.
We don’t need another tax on local families and small businesses when we already have tax-funded programs in place. Let’s build on what we already have and give local families, seniors, and small businesses a break.
Corporations won’t pay a dime of the tax proposed in Measure 26-238.
Here’s who WILL pay:
Local Small Businesses
Many of Multnomah County’s small and medium-sized businesses, and local investors in our community, would pay this tax. In Multnomah County, most small and medium-sized local businesses are taxed on a business owner’s personal tax return—and capital gains are included when determining the amount owed.
A senior may not be subject to a federal income tax return filing, but would be required to file this new tax return and tax. As seniors withdraw savings from retirement investment accounts, they could pay an additional local capital gains tax, reducing their retirement income. So would someone who is selling their home to fund health or end of life expenses; the gains from selling their home would be subject to this new tax.
Unlike federal capital gains taxes, this proposed local tax could apply to all proceeds from the sale of a family’s primary home. For federal tax purposes, the first $250,000 in capital gains on the sale of a primary residence ($500,000 for joint filers), can be excluded from taxation. The proposed Multnomah County measure does not include a similar exclusion.
Communities of Color
Homeownership and entrepreneurship are important tools for building generational wealth for BIPOC people who have historically been excluded from economic opportunity. Latinos are predicted to account for 70% of new homeowners over the next 20 years. But a new tax on homeowners and small business investors discourages these investments and will result in a disparate impact on communities of color.
Middle Class Families
This tax would fall most heavily on middle-class savers who have investments like mutual funds. Wealthy investors typically have larger portfolios and the ability to offset gains with portfolio losses. The wealthy may also have financial structures to avoid this type of tax. Middle class taxpayers don’t usually have this flexibility.
All Multnomah County Residents
Every Multnomah County resident is subject to this tax. There are no income thresholds in Measure 26-238, or exclusions to protect vulnerable residents from this new tax.