Oregon Supreme Court Upholds Portland Arts Tax

Salem, Or. – The Oregon Supreme Court has upheld the City of Portland’s $35 per person Arts tax. It says “because the city’s arts tax exempts residents based on their amount of income, household resources, and sources of income, it does take income into account and is not a poll or head tax.” The state constitution prohibits such a tax.

City Commissioner Nick Fish says “today’s decision is a big win for Portland’s kids. Thanks to the ruling of the Oregon Supreme Court, over 30,000 Portland children will continue to have arts education in school.” He adds “voters overwhelmingly approved the Arts Tax in 2012, recognizing art as fundamental to a child’s education. As of today, the legal question about this tax is settled.”

Retired attorney George Wittemyer, who challenged the tax, calling it unconstitutional, says  he’s disappointed. He says “I failed and the city prevailed.” He says “the every day citizen rallied around me and I had lots of calls from regular people who said is there anything I can do to help you and I think you’re right and that was encouraging.”


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