Open main menu

Page:Quarterlyoforego10oreg 1.djvu/319

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
295
Finances of Oregon.

property tax has characterized Oregon's revenue system down to date. Rigid constitutional prescriptions have called for the uniform and equal assessment and taxation of all property except certain enumerated properties applied to public uses. In the matter of exemption alone, the legislature has consistently stretched its scant measure of freedom. It provided exemptions of a certain minimum to householders. It also attempted to eliminate the double taxation incident to the taxation of credits, and, from the nature of things, failed. A striking innovation in the apportionment of state taxes failed also. But this latter failure came through the invoking of the restrictive authority of the constitution over tax legislation. Two special state tax commissions, one in 1885, and the other in 1905, to investigate and report changes needed in Oregon's tax code, failed to have their main recommendations adopted. They were hampered in each case by constitutional obstructions that barred the way to salutary revision. The last legislature (1909), in submitting the needed constitutional amendments and in centralizing authority in assessment, and in providing a permanent state commission to constitute the assessing board for the property of general situs, took a long stride forward toward modernizing an archaic system.

With a competent commission studying the situation and free, under an amended constitution, to advocate needed changes in the grouping of properties, and the segregation of sources to different taxing jurisdictions, as well as bring up to date the inheritance tax, Oregon would secure a fairly satisfactory system in the near future.