As details of a state budget deal emerged Thursday, it appeared Southwest Washington business leaders could breathe a sigh of relief.
Under the budget agreement, which remains to be voted on, Oregonians still won’t have to pay sales tax when they shop on the Washington side of the Columbia River, state Rep. Jim Moeller, D-Vancouver, said Thursday. This year, lawmakers mulled whether to make Oregonians pay the tax, with the understanding that they could apply online for a tax refund later. Business leaders said making any changes to the exemption would harm retailers in Clark County.
After learning the budget news, Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce president Kelly Parker said she was “excited” and “very relieved.”
“I’m very grateful to our delegation in Clark County from the 17th and 18th districts who were steadfast in their dedication” to protecting the exemption, Parker said. “It was just a matter of helping the majority of legislators understand that while it looked good on paper, it didn’t translate into real savings for the state of Washington.”
Vancouver niche businesses — such as furniture shops and art galleries — get 25 to 40 percent of their business from Oregon shoppers, Parker has said. She estimated that changing the exemption rules would have resulted in 15- to 30-percent reductions in business for some retailers.