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2012 Tax Initiative Petitions
The ballot for this fall’s November general election may be complicated. To date, forty four initiative petitions and two legislative referrals have been filed with the Secretary of State. Fourteen of the initiative petitions have already been approved to circulate for signatures.

Two of those initiative petitions should be of significant interest to all Oregonians who own property. Initiative Petition five would prohibit the imposition of real estate transfer taxes. Initiative Petition fifteen would phase out all existing Oregon estate and inheritance taxes.

A real estate transfer tax is a tax imposed on the privilege of transferring the ownership of real property within the jurisdiction of a state, county or municipality. The transfer tax is separate, and in addition to, any capital gains tax due on the increased value of the property.

The transfer tax can be applied in a variety of ways. Most commonly, the tax is levied as a percentage of the gross sales price of the real estate, regardless of whether or not the sale resulted in a profit for the seller.

Another often used method is to apply a graduated charge for the privilege of recording the change of ownership. That charge is usually based on the gross amount of the sales price.
Either way, a real estate transfer tax represents a sales tax on the gross sale of real property.

Initiative petition five amends Article IX of the Oregon Constitution to prohibit any Oregon government entity from imposing a tax, fee, or other charge upon the transfer of any interest in real property. It also repeals any tax, fee or assessment that became operative after December 1, 2009.

An estate or inheritance tax is often known as the death tax. It is imposed on the taxable value of an estate when the owner dies. The combined State and federal death taxes can reach more than half the taxable value of an estate.

It is practically impossible to raise enough cash to pay the tax without jeopardizing the financial viability of the estate. Too often, small family businesses and farms must be sold in order to pay the governments’ confiscatory death tax.

Oregon is one of only twenty states that continue to levy a death tax. Many other states have wisely abolished the unfair and unproductive form of double taxation.

They have recognized that not only does the tax cause the destruction of many family farms and businesses, but it also results in capital leaving the state. Older people tend to move to states where, when they die, they are able to pass their property and wealth to their children unencumbered.

The combination of the loss of businesses and jobs, plus the flow of capital out of states that levy death taxes, is counterproductive to the economic stability of the state. For instance, Tennessee recently abolished their death tax, when they determined, that the tax only produces about $75 million per year, but has caused the loss of $7 billion in sales, income, property and other tax revenue over the past decade.

Initiative petition fifteen is called the Death Tax Phase-Out Act. It defines a death tax as any tax imposed on the estate of a decedent, any inheritance tax, or any transfer of property where the transfer is a result of the death of a person.

The Act states that neither Oregon nor any other unit of government in Oregon shall impose a death tax. Starting in 2013, it reduces the current estate tax by 25% each year until it is totally phased-out by 2016.

I strongly support both of these initiative petitions. In my view, they will eliminate unfair and unproductive forms of double taxation.
I will sign both of these petitions and I hope that you will too.

Please remember, if we do not stand up for rural Oregon, no one will.

Best regards,




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