Oregon does not have a sales tax. Consequently, any subsidy that abates income and property taxes has a big impact on the state revenue. Besides subsidizing the timber industry, the state uses state and local tax-based subsidies to attract high-tech projects, such as Apple, Facebook, and Google data centers and Intel’s chip manufacturing plants. Amazon has been a significant beneficiary of state subsidies, too. Its warehouses, mostly located in the Portland metro area, and data centers have been receiving Enterprise Zones and Long-Term Rural Enterprise Zones property tax abatements.
Many of the state’s subsidies blend state and local tax abatements. Enterprise Zones and Strategic Investment Program deals are approved by counties, but those deals also need to be certified by the Oregon Business Development Department (OBDD). The Department of Revenue manages tax-based subsidy payouts, and the Oregon Governor’s Office of Film & Television Film manages film subsidies.
Oregon posts subsidy recipient data on the state’s Open Data portal. The portal includes the most important transparency elements for most of major programs such as company names and subsidy amounts, but the Long-Term Enterprise Zone program provides only company names and subsidy amounts.
Tax-based subsidy costs are included in the state’s Tax Expenditure Reports, which also include valuable information on the performance of programs. The state reports selected costs under the GASB 77 rule. Almost two-third of localities and half of school districts have reported lost revenues under the rule.
All tax-based subsidies in the state sunset every six years unless they are renewed by legislators. The renewal process requires the Legislative Revenue Office to evaluate performance of programs on the same timetable.