There is some talk, albeit quiet, that it may be time once again for Oregonians to consider implementing a sales tax.
Now, while we are neither in favor or opposed to the idea at this time, we do believe the time for a discussion on the matter has come.
A handful of our state representatives in Salem have bantered the idea, both recently and during the past year. There is discussion of the idea on political blogs on the Internet.
Supporters of a sales tax have a monumental mountain to climb to convince Oregonians that such an idea is in their best interests. The concept has been soundly defeated at the polls nine times in the past, and residents would certainly be leery of supporting the idea now.
Oregon is one of five states -- Alaska, Delaware, Montana and New Hampshire are the others -- that does not have a sales tax.
The idea of replacing an income tax and reducing residential property taxes, or visa versa, has merit. One of the biggest reasons to listen to such a plan is to capitalize on one of Oregon's biggest industries: tourism. The revenue stream that would be generated from a sales tax on visitors to our great state would be significant.
When we travel to neighboring states like Washington, Idaho and California, we are paying a sales tax in those states -- be it for meals, souvenirs or whatever -- even though we are not residents of those states. It is the law. Let's take advantage of one of Oregon's biggest assets -- its natural beauty -- to help provide a more stabilized source of revenue for city, county and statewide budgets.
But before any sales tax proposal is tossed about, there needs to be assurances that Oregonian's will not be hit by the same three-pronged monster California has, where its residents pay an income tax, a sales tax and a property tax. Any tax rate must be Constitutionally protected and must be written so that politicians can't come back later and increase said rate or restart an income tax or property tax without a statewide, voter-approved Constitutional amendment.
Is a sales tax a good idea for Oregonians? That's yet to be determined. But the time is right for a discussion on the pros and cons of a sales tax in our state.