Rural Citizens' Timber Tax Initiative
The Rural Citizens' Timber Tax Initiative aims to improve the State Laws that protect our Watersheds and also provides badly needed Funding for our local communities.
We want to make you aware of this important effort and hope you will join us on the upcoming Zoom meeting to learn more.
Rural Citizens' Timber Tax Initiative Concept
Revive the property tax on timber, address Small Tract Forestland program, and re-direct OFRI funding to achieve the following:
- Generate property tax funding for local jurisdictions,
- Revenue to address and prevent harm to forested watersheds and fund needs for water infrastructure, and
- Revenue to address threats to communities in fire hazard zones.
Compared with our neighboring state of Washington:
- Oregon has 39% more forestland
- Cuts 46% more timber, and
- Yet Washington collects roughly 3 times more in taxes when trees are cut than Oregon,
- Washington's timber taxes go 80% to countries and 20% to the General Fund.
The tax we have, the Forest Products Harvest tax (since 1947), goes to forest industry interests instead:
The Oregon Forest Research Institute, The Department of Forestry, OSU Forest Research Lab & the College of Forestry and to a fire-fighting fund.
In addition, our neighboring states are far more protective of water and fish than Oregon for:
- stream buffers
- steep slopes
- fewer property tax breaks for timber equipment, roads, culverts and homesites.
As the OPB/Oregonian stories have reported, Oregon's public sector has been losing out. Counties reliant on forestland timber receipts are not collecting the taxes they deserve.
Citizen Initiative Proposal
Returns a severance tax to Oregon on the value of cut timber (not board feet) with a 6.5% rate on the westside; 5% on the eastside (previous rates were 12.5% and 6.5% in Western Oregon and 5% for Eastern Oregon. Washington State tax rate is 5%)
Tax applies to all timber cut in the state, including harvests from federal, state, local and all private forestland greater than 3000 acres, except some tribal land. (Same as for current Oregon Harvest Tax and Washington State severance tax.)
- No exemptions for special assessments - conservation, wildlife or sustainable forest programs as the bill has a 100% reduced tax incentive for best practices.
- Follows Washington State for most rules, forms and values. (This is more efficient for timber producers and the Department of Revenue.)
- 60% - returned to Counties in proportion to timber harvest from each county, to be distributed as property taxes.
- 5% - to develop a program for evaluation and enforcement of best forest practices for protection of drinking water within specific watersheds. Funding to DEQ to work onsite with water districts, landowners, watershed councils, and the community to develop and implement a program based on best available science.
- 20% - Water infrastructure, treatment facilities, watershed improvements and land acquisition to protect water intakes and drinking water resources - managed by Business Oregon as a grants program.
- 15% - Community emergency preparedness in fire hazard zones to include home hardening, defense space, and smoke adaptation. Provision of information, technical assistance, grants and financial assistance to low income residents - managed by Oregon Housing and Community Services.
50% reduction in tax for average stand age of 60 years or more; 75% reduction for average stand age of 70 years and 100% exemption for stands greater than 80 years as incentive for protection of rivers and streams from pollution and to ensure the safety of homes and communities by not logging on steep, unstable slopes, and not using broadcast toxic chemicals. Subject to repayment if the land is sold for development within 3 years of harvest.