Lies, damn lies and statistics: SEIU’s campaign for Measure 97

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“Those who lie, twist life so that it looks tasty to the lazy, brilliant to the ignorant, and powerful to the weak,” said José N. Harris, an American author.

Based on pro-Measure 97 arguments being put out there by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the union knows all about twisting life.

A flyer just mailed to Oregon households by SEIU says 0.25% of Oregon’s 400,000 businesses would pay more under measure 97. Not so fast.

An analysis by the Oregon Legislative Revenue Office on the potential impacts of Measure 97 (when it was still referred to as Initiative Petition 28) made clear that the actual number of businesses that will pay the new taxes is unknown and trying to pin down an exact number is “particularly risky”. That’s because it’s not known how many businesses will take steps to reduce or eliminate the increased tax triggered by the measure.

Potential tax avoidance strategies, according to the Legislative Revenue Office, include:

o Shifting from a C-Corporation to an S-Corporation or non-corporation status.

o Spinning off subsidiaries into separate businesses to reduce Oregon sales below $25 million on the combined state corporate tax return.

o Using mergers and acquisitions or other methods to adjust where the plurality of services are performed under the cost of performance apportionment methodology.

o Vertically integrating with intermediate suppliers in order to reduce taxable transactions.

o Converting to a benefit company, which would not be subject to the new tax.

The risk of setting a firm number for tax revenue under Measure 97 is heightened further by the fact the direct effect of the measure would be “…so heavily concentrated on a relatively few large corporations, thereby giving them a powerful incentive to develop tax planning strategies,” the Revenue Office concluded.

To the extent businesses do take steps to minimize or avoid the new tax, the predicted revenue may not flow into the state’s coffers, forcing more tough choices.

The SEIU is also guilty of peddling dishonest information when it says in its flyer” “Fact: funding can only be spent to improve education, health care and senior services.” SEIU knows full well that Measure 97 would not limit how the resulting tax revenue could be spent by the legislature.

Measure 97’s spending requirements are meaningless Legislative Counsel Dexter Johnson said in an Aug. 1 letter to Rep. John Davis, R-Wilsonville, a member of the House Committee on Revenue.

If Measure 97 is approved by voters, the Legislature can appropriate its revenues “in any way it chooses,” Johnson said. Not only are Legislators “not bound by the spending requirements” of Measure 97, they can “simply ignore” them,” Johnson added.

And even if Gov. Kate Brown has said, “…I will make sure the funds the measure yields go ­toward schools, health care and seniors, as the voters expect,” she is not bound to that commitment, nor are future governors or legislators.

In its purposeful deceit, the SEIU is revealing its true opinion of Oregonians. As John-Paul Sartre said, “the worst part about being lied to is knowing you weren’t worth the truth.”

 

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