Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Oregon Tax Court dings a challenge to the Portland Arts Tax

The Oregon Tax Court has nixed a challenge to the Portland Arts Tax.

The court ruled a lawsuit arguing that the tax violates the state's prohibition on poll taxes belongs in a local circuit court.

Judge Henry C. Breithaupt said the tax court lacks jurisdiction to hear the complaint lodged by Portland-area resident and Lewis & Clark Law School professor John A. Bogdanski. The suit is one of at least two complaints that have claimed the city's arts tax, passed by voters in 2012, is unconstitutional.

Judge Breithaupt cited an 1980 decision by the Oregon Supreme Court that held the tax court may only decide complaints that challenge a tax levied by the state. Since Portland, and not the state, imposed the arts tax, Bogdanski's suit belongs in the local circuit court, the ruling said.

“The government that imposed the arts tax was the city of Portland, not the state of Oregon,” Judge Breithaupt said. “Accordingly, disputes about the arts tax do not arise under the tax laws of the state of Oregon and, all parties agreeing that there is no jurisdictional basis under ORS 305.620, this court has no jurisdiction over disputes about the arts tax.”