Open Menu
Open Menu

Oregon’s $1,000 impact tax on 20-year-old vehicles spiked soon after introduction

Published in

Chevrolet pickup in northeast Portland, Oregon. Photo by Tony Webster.

Multiple Oregon state legislators said over the weekend that they would not allow a bill that would introduce a $1,000 impact tax on any vehicle older than 20 years to become law.

Introduced by the state’s House Committee on Revenue last Thursday, H.B. 2877 would have imposed the tax every five years on 20-year-old and older vehicles registered in the state. The only exemption the bill made was for vehicles registered as antiques. Revenue from the impact tax would have gone toward repairing and maintaining the state’s roads and bridges, reportedly a priority for the Oregon legislature this session.

Under Oregon law, only vehicles older than half the number of years between 1900 and the current year (for 2017, that would include vehicles older than 1959) and those used only for exhibitions, parades, club events, and similar uses qualify as antiques. Vehicles used for everyday transportation do not qualify. Oregon also allows for vehicles 25 years and older to qualify as “special interest” vehicles, but H.B. 2877 did not make an exemption for special interest vehicles.

Phil Barnhardt, chair of the House Committee on Revenue, to which House Speaker Tina Kotek referred the bill on Friday, told Willamette Week on Saturday that he wouldn’t schedule a hearing for the bill, effectively stopping it in its tracks. Kotek told SEMA that the bill was “dead on arrival.”

Multiple state legislators and news outlets spoke out against the bill over the weekend. The Albany Democrat-Herald called it “a disservice to those Oregonians who still are economically struggling and must drive older vehicles” and noted that its purported rationale – that older vehicles caused a disproportionate wear and tear on Oregon roads – didn’t hold water. Representative Sherrie Sprenger called the bill “a legislative indictment of poor Oregonians.”

Had the bill proceeded to the floor of the state’s house of representatives, Oregon law requires any bill proposing a new method of raising revenues to pass by a three-fifths majority rather than by a simple majority.