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 data centers and chip manufacturing plants. Oregon’s tax structure is among the most favorable in the nation for data centers as it has no sales tax to levy on high-end computers and two sets of tax breaks to offer property tax exemptions for as long as 15 years. 

Amazon and Intel have been significant beneficiaries of public subsidies in Oregon. Amazon’s 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. A 2023 investigative reporting by The Oregonian found possible conflict of interests between AWS and local officials. Even though Intel has been receiving generous property tax abatements for its chip making plants for decades now, the state recently brought back R&D tax credits specifically for the benefit of the semiconductor industry. 

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-thirds 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.  

Our database tracking corporate misconduct, Violation Tracker, scours 450 federal, state and local agencies in compiling resolved civil and criminal cases against companies. See the list of state agencies from which we collect information in Oregon.

Last updated January 2024.

For more information, contact Jacob Whiton at [email protected].