Portland Tribune: Council candidate proposes tax on high incomes, expensive purchases

by Jim Redden, Wednesday April 18th 2018

Pamplin Media Group

City Council candidate Julia DeGraw proposed what she describes as a tax on the wealthiest Portlanders and businesses to fund essential social services on Wednesday.

DeGraw, who is running against Commissioner Nick Fish, calls her proposal the Basic Rights and Social Services Tax, or BRASS Tax for short.

“Portland is booming for those at the top, while houselessness is on the rise, and many Portlanders are living paycheck-to-paycheck. Doing business in Portland should mean doing your part to ensure a basic standard of living for all. As profits rise, so too will the obligation owed to the community that helped that company or individual thrive,” DeGraw said in an April 18 statement about the proposal.

Among other thing, the proposal would create a city income tax with rising rates on the top 10, 5, 2 and 1 percent of income-earners. It would also tax expensive consumer goods and services, including cars over $80,000, jewelry over $5,000, cosmetic surgery, moorage/slip fees for yacht owners, and corporate box reservations and season tickets at the Moda Center and Providence Park. It would also expand the tax on companies with wide discrepencies between CEO and average employee salaries first sponsored by former Commissioner Steve Novick. And it would explore a linkage fee similar to one in Seattle on big out-of-state developers and contractors.

Under the proposal, the tax would fund such things as universal tuition-free pre-K, expansion of public emergency, transitional and affordable housing projects, more mental health and addiction treatment programs, and full-time, family wage Portlands Park and Recreation position to end the reliance on temporary workers.

DeGraw announced the proposal during a morning press at the downtown Wells Fargo tower, where she was joined by supporters, including economist Mary C. King, local teachers and other union members.

“I expect Julia DeGraw to provide the creative leadership we need in City Hall that will galvanize local, public investment in areas such as housing and universal preschool — programs that underpin strong, inclusive regional economies,” King said in the statement.