The Northwest Connection

A Community Newspaper for the way we live

“All the sportswriters were mad at me that night because they wanted to get to Hank after the game and I closed the clubhouse to everyone but the team and families . . . I stood on a table and said what I thought about Hank, which was that he was the best ballplayer I ever saw in my life.” – [manager] Eddie Mathews

“THE UNDERGROUND IS EVERYWHERE” was a slogan of our 1960s hippies, who were but a mirror image of Russia’s 1860s Nihilists (whose males wore their hair long and the females had short hair (and they had alternative life-styles that shocked the traditionalists). I was at the University of Wisconsin during the days of the “revolution” and posted my own slogans in the Badger Herald – such as “The Underwood is everywhere.” On a manual Underwood I had been attempting to write a futuristic novel about a Red Sox-Atlanta World Series – plus the return of our braves from “foreign entanglements” and “police actions.” It didn’t get finished yet, but who knew that we would be able to post our stuff on the World Wide Web with computers for free (ain’t free enterprise amazing?). In the meantime, I’ve used up about eight of my nine lives, through a series of miracles that I should detail sometime, and I’ve lived to write another day, adding to my 800-some columns. Continue reading

The 2019 Oregon Legislature established a new tax affecting all firms that do business in Oregon. While it is called by its misnomer the “Corporate Activity Tax,” the CAT actually applies to most types of organizational entities such as partnerships, individuals, limited liability companies, and trusts that have commercial activity generated in Oregon in the regular course of their trade or business. It is a tax paid annually for the privilege of doing business in Oregon. Initial expectations are that it will raise about $1 billion in new revenue annually. These funds are to be set aside for exclusive use for education and school purposes.

By now, every business in Oregon should have received a generic letter from the Oregon Department of Revenue alerting them to this new tax. This letter is a helpful primer on the CAT, but is not incredibly useful in figuring out the impact on each business’s specific situation. As is usual with all tax law, the devil is in the details.

How did the Corporate Activity Tax come about? In May 2019, the Oregon Legislature passed HB 3427. In this bill, it established the CAT as the primary mechanism to fund the new Fund for Student Success. Then in June 2019, the Legislature passed HB 2164 which provided technical Continue reading

Secretary of State Bev Clarno

Today, Secretary of State Bev Clarno announced that Jeff Morgan has been sworn in as Interim Deputy Secretary of State. Jeff has over 39 years of public service in the State of Oregon and has been with the agency as Director of our Business Services Division since 2004. He has also been nationally recognized as an exemplary manager and public servant.

“Jeff has been a wonderful member of the leadership team as Director of the Business Services Division and I am very pleased that he has agreed to step up to the position of Interim Deputy,” Secretary Clarno said. “I am confident that he will help guide this agency and assist me in managing the important duties of the office.”

Jeff has been happily married to his lovely wife, Patti, for over 44 years. They have 3 children and 2 grandchildren.

Kathryn Hickok, Cascade Policy Institute

January 26-February 1 is National School Choice Week, the world’s largest celebration of parental choice and effective education options for all children. Since 2011, more than 180,000 independent NSCW events and activities have been planned in local communities across the country.

The landscape of options to meet the learning needs of today’s students is more diverse than ever. These options include traditional public schools, charter schools, private and parochial schools, homeschooling, magnet schools, online learning, and more.

Empowering parents to choose among these options can unlock the unique potential of every child. More than half the states in the U.S. now help families to have more flexibility with their children’s education through educational choice programs like privately or publicly funded scholarships, education tax credits, and Education Savings Accounts.
Continue reading

Bryan Fischer

The Supreme Court on Friday said it will consider whether states may punish or replace “faithless” presidential electors who refuse to support the winner of their state’s popular vote, or whether the Constitution forbids dictating how such officials cast their ballots.

Lower courts have split on the question, and folks are fearful a handful of independent-minded members of the electoral college might decide the next president.

It’s certainly possible that in a close presidential race, just a few electoral votes could determine the outcome. There are only 538 electoral votes that are cast, and these are the only votes that actually and ultimately count in a presidential contest. Three electors in Washington were fined by the state government for not voting for Hillary Clinton, who won the state’s popular vote. Continue reading

Rachel Dawson, Policy Analyst, Cascade Policy Institute

Oregon state officials recently celebrated helping the state reach 25,000 registered electric vehicles (EVs) through local incentives and the Clean Vehicle Rebate Program. This celebration, however, is a punch in the gut to the state’s low-income and rural residents whose taxes fund the rebates and incentives used to purchase the EVs by predominantly wealthy and urban Oregon residents.

Programs include two rebate programs through the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, a federal tax credit, and local utility rebates (though local utility rebates generally tend to target businesses and the 2019 Nissan LEAF). For example, a consumer could use between $7,500 and $10,000 taxpayer dollars to purchase a new 2020 Tesla Model 3, which currently sells for $39,999. In fact, 24% of the EVs registered in Oregon are Teslas.

These incentive programs may shave a couple thousand dollars off the consumer cost of EVs and plug-in hybrids, but their prices will likely still be too high for those with lower incomes. Purchasing an EV also isn’t a viable option for many residents living in rural counties due to a lack of EV infrastructure. Continue reading

President Vladimir Putin has named Tax Service chief Mikhail Mishustin as Russia’s new prime minister, the Kremlin said Wednesday.

The 53-year-old Mishustin has worked in the government since 1998 and kept a low profile while serving as the head of the Federal Tax Service since 2010.

The Russian leader made the appointment after he engineered a surprise shakeup of Russia’s leadership and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev submitted his resignation earlier in the day.

Putin proposed changes to the constitution that could keep him in power well past the end of his term in 2024. He emphasized that constitutional changes must be put to a vote in a nationwide referendum.

Medvedev resigned his post after Putin announced the proposed constitutional amendments. Putin kept his longtime ally in the Kremlin’s leadership structure, appointing him to the newly created post of deputy head of the presidential Security Council. Continue reading

Eric Fruits, Ph.D.

Oregon’s Corporate Activities Tax went into effect New Year’s Day. Nine times, Oregon voters have rejected a state sales tax. But this year we ended up with something much worse than a sales tax, and voters had no voice in the matter.

While it’s called a “corporate” tax, the name is misleading. The steep new tax is assessed on all businesses in Oregon – even partnerships and the self-employed. The 0.57% tax on sales is triggered once a business hits $1 million in revenue. Even worse, the CAT is a new tax that is imposed on top of state corporate income taxes already paid by many Oregon businesses.

One million dollars in sales may seem like a lot to a legislator, but many small businesses such as restaurants, auto repair shops, and consulting firms can easily generate $1 million in sales a year. A typical convenience store has about $1.5 million in annual sales, which would result in an increased tax liability of $5,000 or more. Continue reading

In 1926, an Oregon school controversy made it all the way to the nation’s Supreme Court. But the issue on the table wasn’t teacher pay, proper curriculum, or student safety. Oregon had outlawed private schools in a discriminatory effort to remove Catholic education. But in the landmark ruling Pierce v. Society of Sisters, the Court recognized that “The fundamental theory of liberty… excludes any general power of the State to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only.” Families have a right to choose how they educate their children.

Later this month, the Court will consider another landmark education case, Espinoza v. Montana. Montana’s tax credit scholarship program, which enabled families to send children to the private schools of their choice, was struck down because some participating students attended religious schools. That decision removed options for all children, but disproportionately affects the children of low income families for whom private school tuition is at best a major sacrifice and at worst an impossibility. Continue reading

Submitted by Lynne Page, AAMS Financial Advisor

Have you thought about your New Year’s resolutions for 2020? When many of us make these promises, we focus on ways we can improve some form of our health. We vow to get more physically healthy by going to the gym, or we promise to improve our mental health by learning a new language or instrument. But it’s also important to think about our financial health – so it’s a good idea to develop some appropriate resolutions for this area, too.

What kinds of financial resolutions might you make? Here are a few suggestions:

Increase your retirement plan contributions. One of the best financial moves you can make is to take full advantage of your 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored retirement plan. If you contribute pre-tax dollars to your plan, the more you put in, the lower your taxable income will be for the year, and your earnings can grow on a tax-deferred basis. So, if your salary goes up in 2020, increase the amount you put into to your plan. Most people don’t come close to reaching the annual contribution limit, which, in 2019, was $19,000, or $25,000 for those 50 or older. You might not reach these levels, either, but it’s certainly worthwhile to invest as much as you can possibly afford. Continue reading

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