By Chris Merkel, DHM Research
Political leaders in Oregon have indicated that they are planning a comprehensive review of Oregon’s tax system in the 2015 legislative session. In an effort to gauge where Oregonians stand on taxes, DHM Research conducted an online survey via the DHM Panel.
As we found out in the 2013 Oregon Values and Belief Survey, Oregonians consider education funding and education quality, followed by the economy and jobs, to be the most important issues they want their state and local government officials to address. That being said, when Oregonians are pushed on the issue of taxation, there seems to be a consensus: Oregonians are ready for tax reform, with 68% of DHM Panel respondents describing tax reform as an urgent (‘very urgent’ and ‘somewhat urgent’) priority in the 2015 legislative session. This sentiment was especially strong amongst residents of the Willamette Valley (87%) vs. those from the Tri-county region (68%) and the rest of the state (47%). What is more, Oregonians prefer a comprehensive approach to tax reform. When asked which combination of property, income and/or additional taxes residents want addressed, a plurality (47%) said that the State Legislature should address income taxes, property taxes, and consider additional taxes (while 29% would prefer that the Legislature only consider income and property taxes).
So what might make Oregonians more likely to support statewide tax reform?
For one thing, 76% of respondents said they would be more likely to support tax reform if it ensured that all properties with similar market values would be taxed at similar levels – a sentiment shared by all major demographic groups. Surprisingly, the possibility of lowering taxes for all property owners only made 52% of respondents more likely to support tax reform. This potential outcome was particularly effective for Republicans, 70% of whom said they would be more likely to support tax reform in the event that it lowered tax rates for all property owners.
There were two things in particular though, that seem to make Oregonians less likely support comprehensive tax reform: reducing funding for government services and schools. Notably, 70% of respondents in this study indicated that any decreases to public school funding would make them less likely (‘somewhat’ or ‘much less’) to support tax reform, including 90% of Democrats. Additionally, when asked how a decrease in funding for local government services, such as police, fire and roads would affect their thinking, 65% of respondents said it would make them less likely to support tax reform.
Ultimately, Oregonians are showing some appetite for tax reform. While interested in maintaining or increasing funding for existing governmental services, Oregon residents also want property taxes to be more consistent, including the assurance that all properties with similar markets values would be taxed at similar levels.
If you’re interested in learning more about tax reform in the upcoming legislative session, check out the League of Oregon Cities Property Tax Reform Guide.
Make sure you’re registered to vote and stay tuned for upcoming DHM Panel surveys, election forecasts, and more!
In total, 447 Oregonians participated in this survey, with the margin of error for each question falling between +/-2.8% and +/-4.6%. Survey demographics reflected the Oregon population as a whole.