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Dec. 10, 2019

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Tax on big retailers likely to make November ballot in Portland

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Published: July 6, 2018, 8:25pm

PORTLAND — Supporters of an initiative to increase business taxes to pay for eco-related causes say they have gathered enough signatures to put it on Portland ballots this November.

If they earn a spot on the ballot, supporters of the Portland Just Energy Transition Initiative, officially called PDX 04, would likely ignite a fierce and expensive campaign against businesses that would pay the tax.

The tax would apply a 1 percent surcharge to all Portland sales by businesses with at least $1 billion in annual revenue, at least $500,000 of which must be made within city limits. Money raised would be set aside for eco-friendly building and energy projects, and job training for women and people of color.

Supporters say the tax would raise about $30 million annually. Most groceries and medicines would be exempt.

If approved, Portland businesses would be taxed under a mechanism similar to the one proposed in Measure 97. Oregon voters soundly rejected that measure, which proposed a statewide tax on certain business’ income, in 2016 — but only after the most expensive ballot measure campaign in state history.

It’s likely supporters of PDX 04 have gathered enough signatures. During a press conference on the steps of City Hall, sponsors of the initiative announced Thursday that they have collected more than 60,000 signatures — far more than the 34,156 required.

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