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Hales: Art tax needs fixing

The City Council will consider an emergency fix to the new Portland Arts Tax later this month, Mayor Charlie Hales announced Monday.

The change will apply the tax only to Portland residents who make $1,000 or more a year. The measure approved by the voters at the November 2012 election imposed the annual $35 tax on all Portlanders 18 and older who earn any income and live in a house with total earnings above the poverty level. That means someone who earns less than $35 a year is still required to pay the full $35 tax.

“No one crafting this tax intended this to be the rule,” Mayor Charlie Hales said in a prepared statement. “This is just silly. And we need to move right now to address the Law of Unintended Consequences.”

According to Hales, the council will discuss an emergency ordinance creating the $1,000 minimum income requirement at its March 27 meeting. The change would be effective immediately and would affect Portland residents paying this year’s arts tax.

For those who earned less than $1,000 last year but already paid the tax, a refund will be required. City Revenue staff is aware of the situation and will work to address those who fall into this category, Hales said.

Other changes may also be in the works.

"There may be other issues of fairness in the arts tax to be considered at a later date," said the press release that announced the upcoming change.