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Oregon Could Bring Back Real Estate Transfer Taxes

by Scott Donald, Irvine, March 2020

 

Oregon did away with real estate transfer taxes in 2012 with the passage of Measure 79. Now with rising property values helping to create what some officials are calling a housing crisis, the legislature is considering a reversal.

 

If transfer taxes are reinstated, the funds will be earmarked to help finance affordable housing in the state.

 

Amending the Constitution

 

The Oregon Constitution currently prohibits any “tax, fee, or other assessment upon the transfer of any interest in real property.”

 

House Joint Resolution 203 was filed by the governor’s office. It amends the state constitution to allow for real estate transfer taxes.

 

The proposal is specifically aimed at taxing high-dollar real estate transactions. It includes an exemption for the first $500,000 of a property’s value.

 

A tax rate has yet to be proposed. If the measure becomes law, details would be decided by the state’s Legislative Assembly.

 

Opponents Speak Out

 

Realtors say they are extremely concerned about the prospect of real estate transfer taxes making a comeback in Oregon.

 

“We do not feel like a real estate transfer tax is the right approach to funding societal needs,” Shaun Jillions, a lobbyist for the Oregon Association of Realtors told Oregon Public Television. “We’re taking it very seriously, Jillions said.

 

Housing State of Emergency

 

Reestablishing transfer taxes is just one of the housing-related proposals filed for the current legislative session.

 

House Speaker Tina Kotek plans to ask lawmakers to declare a housing state of emergency in Oregon. She will push for a $120 million package to help communities establish shelters and affordable housing opportunities.