PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon will send more than $460 million back to taxpayers next year, after the surging economy led to unexpectedly strong tax collections, state economists said Wednesday.
The estimated median rebate under the Oregon's unique "kicker" law will be $89 for individual taxpayers, though the figure varies greatly based on income.
The kicker law was created in 1979 as a check on government growth. It's triggered when the state collects at least 2 percent more than anticipated during a two-year budget cycle. When that happens, the additional money is kicked back to taxpayers.
Because of the recession, Oregon taxpayers went eight years without a kicker before finally getting rebates in 2015.
Rather than receiving a check, taxpayers must claim the kicker as a credit when they file their state taxes next year. The kicker money will increase the size of a refund or decrease the final tax bill.
"Oregon continues to show the world that our state is a great place to live, visit, and do business," Gov. Kate Brown said in a statement about the rosy revenue forecast. "Oregon businesses and workers develop world-class products and ideas — and that's something to celebrate."
Though strongly supported by voters, who strengthened the law in 1999 by adding it to the state Constitution, the rebate has its critics. They contend the rebates prevent the state from adequately saving for a rainy day.
Chuck Sheketoff, director of the left-leaning Oregon Center for Public Policy, noted in a statement that Oregon could have used the extra money to hire 2,650 teachers.
"We are in the midst of one of the longest economic expansions in the post-World War II era — a business cycle that sooner or later will end with a recession," he said. "A better funded rainy day fund would protect more essential public services during the next downturn."