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Adams proposes business tax amnesty

Around 2,900 businesses might qualify

Mayor Sam Adams on Wednesday announced a limited amnesty for businesses that have not paid their taxes, including businesses that have not taken out a business license.

The City Council will consider the program on May 9. The amnesty period would run from May 15 to July 16 and include a full waiver of penalties and a 50 percent reduction in interest for qualifying businesses.

'This is a once-in-a-lifetime offer,' said Mayor Adams. 'Many people here have been hard-hit by the effects of the national financial crisis. This is our way of helping Portland businesses lift themselves up and fulfill their tax duties.'

City revenue officials estimate 2,900 could qualify for the program, which has the potential of collecting around a million dollars in unpaid license taxes for the city. The council must cut around $17 million in general fund revenues from next year's budget to balance it because financing problems caused by declining property tax revenues and the ongoing poor economy.

Under Portland and Multnomah County codes, businesses are subject to 2.2% and 1.45% taxes on net profit, respectively. Businesses operating in both jurisdictions pay a combined rate of 3.65%. The taxes help pay for police and fire protection, parks and health and human services Combined, the taxes are expected to total over $116 million for the year ending June 30, 2012.

Adams also intends to ask the council to allocate any added on-going taxes received under this program to increasing the owner's compensation deduction for Portland businesses.

'It may be a modest increase, but any amount helps,' Adams says.

Additional information can found using the 'Tax Amnesty' link at www.portlandonline.com/amnesty

Businesses can also call the Revenue Bureau's 'Tax Amnesty Hotline' anonymously at 503-823-6881 for additional details about the program or to talk through special circumstances.