Working families have gone through a lot over the last year. Many have had to deal with job loss, losing a loved one to COVID-19, and learning how to become a teacher for their kids – or even grandkids like my wife Sue and I have had to do.
The last thing we should be doing is adding to this uncertainty by allowing the state to tax the federal stimulus checks that many Oregonians received last year. I could not believe that the state would be taxing money meant to help people pay rent and/or mortgage, put food on the table, or pay for babysitters.
The Legislative Revenue Office issued a report that estimated 870,000 middle-class families could be sending around $300 from their stimulus check to the state government. I was shocked that the issue had not yet been corrected. That is why I introduced the Stimulus Check Protection Act, also known as Senate Bill 842.
To me, it’s common sense that relief money meant to help Oregonians should not be taxed. Oregonians deserve to keep all of this money to support their families and their communities.
In a time when Oregon is seeing better than expected revenue because of federal bailouts, there is no need to be ‘nickel and diming’ Oregonians. This loophole in the tax code is expected to raise over $110 million. Massive federal packages have been sending billions to the State of Oregon, to turn around and tax Oregonians on top of that is flat out wrong.
It is no secret that our politics are more polarized than ever, and bipartisanship is increasingly difficult. Yet, I have been encouraged by the amount of support this idea has received from other state and federal legislators. Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-Springfield) has expressed support for the concept of ensuring stimulus check dollars stay in the pockets of Oregonians. After I announced my intent to draft this fix, other legislative Democrats have voiced interest in solving the issue. Bipartisanship should find its way forward when we are helping people.
Some will ask, “Why send me a reimbursement check when we could just exempt the stimulus money from taxation?”
That is what I, and several of my colleagues in the Legislature, would have preferred. But because of procedural rules, if passed, SB 842 will not go into effect until September. So, yes, when you file your taxes in the coming weeks, you will be sending part of your stimulus check to the state, unfortunately.
But only temporarily, when SB 842 is passed, you will get a check in the mail around the end of September or October to make up the difference.
I urge my Republican and Democrat colleagues alike to support this bill and show Oregonians that bipartisanship isn’t dead. We can work together and show our commitment to Oregonians.
Senator Dick Anderson