Vancouver paper decries amended sales tax incentive for Oregon customers

May 29, 2019
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Written by Washington Retail
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The Vancouver Columbian newspaper has urged state legislators to reinstate a sale tax break for Oregon shoppers who buy in Washington State if sales drop off as a result.

The sales tax exemption for shoppers from Oregon, where there is no sales tax, disappears on July 1 as a result of Gov. Inslee signing ESSB 5997 into law this year. Oregon shoppers who received an immediate sales tax break in Washington State now will have to save their receipts and apply for a break later on. Washington Retail opposed the change believing that without an immediate break in sales tax, far fewer Oregon residents would be motivated to apply for a tax refund later.

Projections are the overall sale, particularly in Clark County bordering Oregon,  will fall due to the new law. One Vancouver furniture store owners estimated that Oregon shoppers made up 40 percent of his sales.

State legislators estimated the new law would generate $50 million in new income over a two-year period. But the Columbian wondered how much reduced Business & Occupation taxes based on gross sales would reduce new revenues.

“We urge lawmaker to keep a close watch on its impact,” a Columbian editorial said. “If businesses in border counties see a drop in sales that can be traced to a decline in Oregon shoppers, the exemption should be reinstated as quickly as possible.”

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