Talk about putting the cart before the horse.
Late last year, the left-leaning Oregon Center for Public Policy (OCCP) put out a podcast firmly asserting that “…Oregon’s tax system entrenches and even deepens racial inequality.”
The organization then proceeded to undercut its argument by admitting it doesn’t have the data to prove its point. So now it is including in its 2022 Legislative Agenda passage of a bill that would add a race and ethnicity question to Oregon’s income tax forms.
“We must also better understand how the tax code impacts racial equity,” the OCCP now says. “Tax justice is a racial justice issue. We need better data to see which tax loopholes worsen racial inequality, so that together we can craft solutions to fix the problem.”
In other words, OCCP wants the state to collect data that it hopes will prove its point. It’s kind of an Alice in Wonderland “Verdict first, trial later” situation.
But even if the bill, SB 1569*, passes, the data it produces and the “racial impact statements” the bill would require the Department of revenue to produce would be useless.
That’s because the bill “Directs (the) Department of Revenue to develop schedule allowing personal income taxpayers to voluntarily report taxpayers’ self-identified race and ethnicity identifiers.” That’s right, the submission of the data the OCCP plans to rely on to prove its point would be voluntary.
That would inevitably result in bias due to unrepresentative samples of taxpayers submitting data, known as selection bias.
There could be under-coverage, for example, if some taxpayers are inadequately represented in the sample, or nonresponse bias, if respondents differ in meaningful ways from nonrespondents. Respondents might also be principally those who have strong opinions on the issue. For example, the reliability of surveys on call-in radio shows that solicit audience participation on controversial topics such as abortion, affirmative action, gun control and the legacy of Donald Trump are typically unreliable.
Unconvinced that this bill’s reliance on voluntary participation and potential sampling errors would undermine its value?
A while ago there was an election when a botched presidential poll conducted over the phone unintentionally oversampled Republicans because the well-off were more likely to have a phone.
*The chief sponsors of SB 1569 are: Senate Majority Leader Rob Wagner (D); Senator Kayse Jama (D); Representative Greg Smith (R); Senator James I. Manning Jr. (D); Representative Courtney Neron (D); Representative Khanh Pham (D); Representative Andrea Valderrama (D).
The 18 regular sponsors, all Democrats, are: Senators Dembrow, Frederick, Gorsek, Lawrence Spence, Patterson, Representative Alonso Leon, Campos, Dexter, Grayber, Helm, Hudson, Kropf, McLain, Power, Ruiz, Schouten, Prusak, Williams