Oregon’s proposed transportation funding package bill, HB 2017, currently in the Oregon legislature, looks to increase investments in bicycle and pedestrian paths by imposing a 3% sales tax on bicycles. Bicycle and pedestrian trails are important to Oregon communities and should be included in the transportation funding package but a sales tax on bicycles is not an effective or fair way to raise those funds. We believe in fair taxes and we will work with the The Street Trust, People For Bikes, and the Oregon Legislature to determine fair, successful mechanisms to build infrastructure and grow ridership.
Our position on the proposed funding package bill is:
- We want the legislature to remove the bicycle sales tax from the bill in its entirety.
- We want the legislature to maintain new funding for bicycle and pedestrian facilities.
Bicycling will play a large role in solving some of our transportation challenges; we want to make it as accessible as possible to every Oregonian. Further, we believe this bicycle tax, as written in the proposal, will have a profound negative impact on small business in Oregon.
On Tuesday June 6th, The Street Trust hosted a bike ride, from Portland to Salem, to show support for bicycle funding and to bring advocates to testify on a number of bicycle related subjects. I was among the 11 people who pedaled to the state capitol that day and my testimony was directed against the proposed bike sales tax. Our group included advocates for Safe Routes to School and citizen advocates. I rode with them to testify before the Joint Committee on Transportation Preservation and Modernization that Bikes Mean Business and to tell the members of the committee that despite the good intentions of the fund raising for bike projects this bill will have the unintended consequence of harming Oregon’s independent bicycle retailers.
Over 60 people from around the state arrived to testify on a wide range of subjects in the 298-page bill. Our time was brief, only 2 minutes each, and I interestingly followed PBOT Director Leah Treat in my time before the committee. Our position, and the position of nearly all of our peers in this business, is that the proposed bike sales tax is unfair and harms Oregon’s independent bicycle retailers:
- The bike tax is effectively a sales tax on small business rather than a user tax.
- The bike tax will impose new administrative costs on small businesses because there is currently no sales tax in Oregon.
- Taxing only bicycles that retail for $500 or more guarantees that small, independent bicycle dealers and their customers will have to administer and pay the tax. It creates an unfair competitive advantage for national, big box retailers in our state.
- The bike tax will not raise a significant amount of revenue, particularly after accounting for implementation costs by both businesses and the government.
- It subjects human-powered bicycles and electric bicycles to different tax schemes, creating implementation problems for bike shops that carry both types of bicycles.
Our testimony ended by asking the committee, “Will you work to remove or replace this unfair sales tax on bicycles from the transportation package?”
A vote is likely to occur very soon. The Street Trust has all the information you need to contact your legislators on this matter.