In Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, Oregon collected $15.4 billion in state and local taxes. While this is an impressive sum of money, it tells us little about whether or not the average Oregon taxpayer can afford this level of taxation.
As shown in Chart 1 below, Oregon’s state and local tax burden (tax collections divided by personal income) was the twenty-fourth highest in the nation for FY 2013 at 10 percent—this is -3 percent below the national average of 10.3 percent. As shown in Chart 2, Oregon’s tax burden has grown over time by 30 percent to 10 percent in FY 2013 from 7.7 percent in FY 1950.
Oregon’s lower than average state and local tax burden is driven by their lack of sales tax. However, Oregon does have a significant individual income tax burden (4 percent, 2nd highest) that partially offsets not having a sales taxes.
Of course, the tax burdens for local government can vary just as much as they do among the 50 states. As such, we have also calculated the local government tax burden for every county in Oregon—this includes every taxing jurisdiction within the geographic county borders whether it is a city, a special district, or county government itself.
The Oregon counties with the highest local government tax burden include: Gilliam County, OR (20.8 percent), Sherman County, OR (6.7 percent), and Lincoln County, OR (6.3 percent). The Oregon counties with the lowest local government tax burden include: Polk County, OR (1.7 percent), Union County, OR (2.4 percent), and Douglas County, OR (2.7 percent).
J. Scott Moody has nearly 20 years experience as a public policy economist with a specialty in tax policy and has over 180 publications. He has worked for numerous national and state-based think tanks such as the American Conservative Union Foundation, Federalism In Action, Tax Foundation, Heritage Foundation, and The Maine Heritage Policy Center.