Oregon's Big Timber Elite Evade Billions of $ in Taxes to Oregon!

    Big Timber Elite Evade Paying $100s’ of Millions in Oregon Taxes Every Year Which Could Support Struggling Counties and Schools
    In the Oregon 2013-2015 Tax Expenditure Report the Oregon Department of Revenue reveals that Oregon and counties will lose more than $285 million per year in tax revenues because of tax exemptions and reductions directed at the big timber elite (those who own more than 5,000 acres).  See pages 259-260, and 320-324.
    There are other tax exemptions given for logging roads (page 260) and logging equipment which we didn't include in the above $285 million figure.

    Beginning in 1999 Democratic Governor Kitzhaber Grants Huge Tax Exemption to Oregon's Big Timber

    In 1999 the Oregon Legislature and Governor Kitzhaber through House Bill 3575 granted timber companies and individuals across Oregon who own more than 5,000 acres of forest land an exemption to paying the timber harvest “privilege tax". 


    The resulting precipitous drop in $100s’ of millions of tax revenues collected by the Oregon Department of Revenue over the last 10 years can be viewed

    Attached below.  (Oregon Department of Revenue –Forest Products Taxes and Severance Taxes. 2008).
     (Note: HB 3575 was phased in and fully implemented by 2004-05).

    The Oregon Legislative Revenue Office wrote in Research Report #5-07 named "Oregon's Forestland Revenue -Impacts on State and Local Public Services", “The revenue loss associated with repealing the Privilege Tax and lowering the specially assessed values of forest land property is an estimated $70 million per year.”


    In light of these indisputable facts of revenues lost to public schools and counties, Oregon citizens should demand that Governor Kitzhaber and the Oregon Legislature remove this unfair tax exemption granted to the wealthiest people of Oregon.


    Further, these timber companies and wealthy individuals pay a miniscule amount of property taxes to each county.  In Lane County for tax year 2006 the timber industry owned 47% of the private property yet they only paid 4% of the counties total property taxes.
    More specifically in 2006 Property Taxes collected from private citizens amounted to approximately $54 million.  Approximately $2 million was collected from large timber land owners (more than 5,000 acres).


    See the 2012 Oregon Taxes Report-Basic Facts and go to page 87 to see specific numbers and charts for timber taxes collected by the Oregon Department of Revenue up 2011.
    The Timber Products Harvest Tax collected starting in 2000 are allocated to Oregon Department of Forestry, OSU, and Oregon Forest Resources Institute. None of these timber products harvest taxes go to counties or Oregon public schools. Go to this State of Oregon page here to see exact allocation.


    To add insult to injury, these same timber companies and wealthy individuals are exporting as much as a billion board feet of raw logs from Oregon to Asia per year without any assessed taxes going to Oregon schools or counties. To address the resulting rampant destruction from this “gold rush” we will push for a state  surtax on clear-cut and riparian logging.

    We need not listen to the hollow rhetoric by timber industry pundits, politicians, and wealthy timber families that we must destroy our remaining publicly owned State Forests, BLM forests, and National Forests, as well as our waters in the name of raising revenues for Oregon’s public schools and counties.


    Join us to demand that these wealthy tax dodgers pay their fair share to create a fair and just taxation system to support Oregon’s public schools and counties.
    Democratic Congressman DeFazio Ignores Oregon's Big Timber Tax Loopholes while Proposing to Privatize 1.5 million acres of BLM Lands.
    Read Letter in Eugene Register Guard March 10, 2012.

    "Big Timber has had too many tax breaks"

    Eugene Register Guard Letter to the Editor Published on March 10, 2012

    In his March 2 column (“Forestry bill is our best chance to save ourselves”), U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio failed to mention that Oregon’s timber industry receives upwards of $300 million in state tax breaks each year.

    Meanwhile, Oregon’s biggest timber companies are exporting as much as 1 billion board feet of raw logs to Asia each year — without paying a dime in taxes to support Oregon schools or county governments.

    DeFazio chastised Lane County Commissioner Pete Sorenson and Lincoln County Commissioner Bill Hall for proposing to raise property taxes, but he failed to mention that in 1977, Gov. Bob Straub and the Oregon Legislature bequeathed the timber industry an exemption to paying taxes on the value of their standing timber.

    The industry hasn’t paid taxes on private standing timber, valued at approximately $40 billion, since then. By 2003-05, that “standing timber tax exclusion” was valued at $511 million per biennium.

    A timber harvest privilege tax was passed in 1977 that generated $30 million to $68 million per year in state tax revenues. But in 1999, even that modest harvest tax was deleted for timberland owners with holdings of more than 5,000 acres, thanks to Gov. John Kitzhaber and the Oregon Legislature through the passage of House Bill 3575.

    Should we “trust” away more than 1 million acres of U.S. Bureau of Land Management forests, as DeFazio proposes, while ignoring the fact that Oregon’s timber elite have evaded paying billions of dollars in taxes that would have supported Oregon schools and counties since 1977?

    Shannon Wilson


    Shannon Wilson,
    Dec 19, 2012, 12:20 PM