Oregon Supreme Court to decide Portland arts tax

A lower court has already upheld the tax

Portland's Revenue Bureau office. (KOIN 6 News, file)
Portland's Revenue Bureau office. (KOIN 6 News, file)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The arts tax is one of the most controversial taxes Portland residents are supposed pay, but now the state’s highest court will decide whether it’s legal.

Thirty-five dollars a year is what most everyone who makes money is supposed to pay in order to help fund art and music classes in schools, but opponents say it’s illegal.

A Portland arts tax receipt. (KOIN)
A Portland arts tax receipt. (KOIN)

The Oregon Supreme Court agreed to look at the argument that everyone in Portland is supposed to pay the $35, regardless of their income.

Portland voters approved the tax 4 years ago, and so far, millions raised have funded 91 art and music teachers in the Portland schools.

But opponents, including some parents, say the money should come from school taxes, and it’s not a fair tax.

Those arguing the tax is legal say not everyone has to pay it, and there are exemptions.

Residents don’t pay if they are under 18, make less than $1,000 of taxable income a year and are below the federal poverty level.

A lower court ruled the tax legal, but there are also thousands of people who are supposed to be paying that don’t, and the city is struggling to get people to pay up.