In its effort to punish Oregon businesses with higher taxes, Our Oregon got a little too clever in its supposed push for “fairness”.
The group, an alliance of unions and other progressive groups, filed initiative measures that would substantially raise corporate taxes. It has to gather 88,184 signatures ahead of a July deadline to get the measure on the November 2016 ballot.
The measure would increase the state’s minimum income tax for larger corporations, requiring them to pay a gross receipts tax of 2.5 percent on their Oregon sales above $25 million. The state currently anticipates collecting $500 million in corporate income taxes in each of the next two years. The Our Oregon measures would raise corporate taxes by an estimated $2.6 billion annually.
But there’s a loophole. Want to make sure your company won’t be hit with the new taxes if they become law? Declare it a benefit company under ORS 60.754. There are already 740 registered benefit companies in Oregon. No reason not to keep them coming.
And a business that registers as a benefit company really doesn’t add much of a burden. All it has to do is designate at least one “benefit governor” on its board, choose a third-party standard to follow, publish an annual report on its website showing how the business met the standards that year.
If Good Clean Love, an Oregon maker of organic sexual lubricants and oils, and Sweet Leaf Cannibis of Springfield can do it, surely a lot of other businesses can.