At their most recent meeting, the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA) Board of Directors voted unanimously (with 1 abstention) to support a legislative bill which will originate from Governor Brown’s office in support of a permanent 1.8% statewide lodging tax rate during the 2020 Oregon Legislative Session. Revenue raised by the statewide lodging tax is invested in Travel Oregon’s efforts to strengthen the economic impact of our state’s tourism industry. Oregon’s statewide lodging tax is currently collected at a rate of 1.8% with a reduction in the rate scheduled to take effect as of July 1, 2020 to a permanent rate of 1.5%.
“We appreciate Governor Brown’s proactive outreach to meet with ORLA and some of our key lodging stakeholders in person to discuss the merits of keeping the statewide lodging tax rate at 1.8% permanently,” said Jason Brandt, President & CEO of ORLA. “Our goals for lodging tax rate structures in Oregon are two-fold – protecting all statewide lodging tax resources to create return on investment for the industry through the efforts of Travel Oregon and protecting local lodging tax reforms passed in the 2003 Legislative Session.”
Oregon continues to experience healthy growth in tourism spending logging our ninth consecutive year of industry growth in 2018. Compared to 2017, visitor spending was up 4.2% reaching a record $12.3 billion. Industry employment was also up year over year by 2.9% to approximately 115,400. Year over year, hotel room revenue increased by 4.4% as well.
“We have seen firsthand what strategic investments in tourism promotion can do when industry tax dollars are put to their most effective use,” said Brandt. “With many other competing priorities in the Capitol, it is essential the association protects the appropriate use of these dollars at both the local and state levels. The economic impacts we are seeing are significant not just for our industry but for our public sector partners as well.”
The U.S. Travel Association tracks statewide economic impact throughout the country and assists states in quantifying the value of year over year tourism growth. The most recently available data notates Oregon’s tourism growth at 5.3% when comparing 2016 to 2017, further substantiating the value of healthy tourism growth for Oregon’s public sector. From 2016 to 2017, Oregon experienced visitor spending growth of $652 million. That increase in spending and associated payroll income tax increases equates to as many as 410 firefighter positions, 380 police officer positions, or 380 teacher positions.
ORLA continues to focus on the protection of local lodging tax dollars for tourism promotion and tourism related facilities in addition to support given to Governor Brown’s upcoming legislative bill for the statewide resource. Oregon’s local lodging tax structure can be complicated with over 110 different city and county jurisdictions collecting a transient lodging tax outside of the 1.8% statewide tax. Important guidelines have been in place for the past 16 years for how local lodging tax dollars can be spent. To clarify those parameters, ORLA recently produced a new instructional video to assist all stakeholders and the general public in better understanding the rules which govern local lodging tax resources.
The new video specific to local lodging taxes (not to be confused with Oregon’s 1.8% statewide lodging tax) can be viewed here:
For more information about the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association’s policies on transient lodging taxes, please reach out to Greg Astley, ORLA’s Director of Government Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org via email.
Calculating the Corporate Activity Tax (CAT)
The Corporate Activity Tax is complicated and calculating your potential tax can be confusing. Therefore, ORLA has created a CAT calculator example to help our members understand how to calculate the tax. This exercise is only meant to help you project what your tax liability could be next year based on your sales in 2018. As always, please be sure to consult your tax advisors.
Did You Miss the Webinars on Understanding the CAT?
ORLA hosted two members-only informational webinars on Nov. 19 and Dec. 3 that explained the new tax, the Department’s implementation plans and what you can expect as a business owner. Tax experts with accounting firm Moss Adams LLP in Portland also provided some best tax practices for the hospitality industry. ORLA members can access the slide deck from the presentation by logging into the Resource Library of the Member Portal.
Corporate Activities Tax Passed in the Legislature
This was one of the 2019 Legislative Session bills having the biggest impact on businesses. ORLA was opposed to this bill as it raised taxes on corporate activity for businesses with gross revenues of over one million dollars. ORLA, along with others in the business community, was able to amend the original bill to include a deduction for labor or cost of goods sold. The association will work during the rule making session to ensure hospitality businesses will be able to include the tax increase on receipts so customers can see the impact of the tax.
According to Oregon's Department of Revenue, the Corporate Activity Tax is imposed only after a taxpayer exceeds $1 million of taxable commercial activity. Once they pass that threshold, the tax is $250 plus 0.57% on gross receipts greater than $1 million after subtractions. Proceeds of the tax are directed by statute to boost funding for public schools. Some key points to know:
DOR Website Includes FAQs
Oregon Department of Revenue’s website in a newly updated list of frequently asked questions (FAQs). Understanding what stakeholders needed to know helped members of the agency’s Corporate Activities Tax (CAT) team craft better, more complete answers to the most asked questions. FAQs have been made available to business taxpayers, tax preparers and the public on the Oregon DOL website.
DOR Sought Industry Input in CAT Rule Making
The Department of Revenue (DOR) held a series of town hall meetings across the state in September-October to seek input from business taxpayers about the administrative rules for Oregon’s new Corporate Activity Tax (CAT). Nearly 900 business taxpayers and tax professionals took part in these public forums or participated in video conferences and conference calls. More information is now available on the CAT page of DOR website.
If you have any questions, please email Greg Astley, Director of Government Affairs, at Astley@OregonRLA.org.
This is for general informational purposes only. The information is not, and should not be relied upon or regarded as, legal advice. Please consult with your legal advisors.