Two significant tax ballot measures were on the ballot for voters in the Portland area this Election Day.  Here’s a look at what measures passed and which ones failed.

Failed.  The Portland Metro Council Measure 26-218 proposed authorizing a payroll tax on employers for workers in the metropolitan Portland areas to fund transit improvements and transportation programs along transit corridors in portions of Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties.  The measure proposed allowing the Metro Council to set the payroll tax at a rate not to exceed 0.75% for employers with over 25 employees beginning in 2022.  Employers with 25 employees or less would have been exempt from this payroll tax.

Results: Failed (81.63% reporting)

  • 46.16% yes votes (195,543)
  • 53.84% no votes (228,068)

 Fiscal Impact:  it was projected that the payroll tax would have raised approximately $250 million each year for the proposed transit improvements and transportation programs using current employment numbers.

Passed.  Multnomah County, Oregon Preschool for All Program Measure 26-214 imposes a new personal income tax at a rate between 1.5% and 3.8% on residents of Multnomah County.  Beginning January 1, 2021, the measure imposes a 1.5% income tax on single filers with taxable income derived within the county over $125,000 and an additional 1.5% on taxable income over $250,000.  For joint filers, the measure imposes a 1.5% income tax on taxable income derived within the county over $200,000 and an additional 1.5% on taxable income over $400,000.  Beginning in January 1, 2026, the base income tax rate imposed by the measure increases from 1.5% to 2.6%.  Revenue generated by this measure would be used to fund tuition-free preschool and compensate teachers.

Results: Passed (81.63% reporting)

  • 64.14% yes votes (278,533)
  • 35.86% no votes (155,720)

Fiscal Impact: estimated to raise $133 million each year.

Local businesses and individuals are also still preparing to absorb tax increases imposed through past ballot measures.  During the May primary, Portland Metro voters approved Measure 26-210, which supports homeless services and imposes a business profits tax beginning in 2021 on the net income of each person doing business in the Portland Metro District (which combines three counties in the greater Portland area) that have total annual gross receipts over $5 million.  This measure also contained a personal income tax component, imposing an additional one percent personal income tax on taxable income over $200,000 for joint filers and over $125,000 for single filers on income over these thresholds. With the passage of the new County-wide personal income tax, Multnomah County, which includes Portland, will have a combined state and local personal income tax rate in the country of 14.6%. These tax increases are in addition to the new state Commercial Activities Tax that businesses also face.

Please check back for our full alert on the tax-related ballot initiatives results across the country.