Novick wants to start over with arts tax

Novick wants to start over with arts tax
City Commissioner Steve Novick.

PORTLAND, Ore. – City Commissioner Steve Novick is frustrated with the problems the arts tax has experienced, so he's proposing to scrap it and trying again with a different tax for arts.

Currently, you owe the $35 tax if you live in Portland, you live in a household whose income is above the poverty line and you earn more than $1,000 a year.

Novick's proposal would tax 1.5 percent of whatever a person owes in Oregon state income taxes.

Novick said it’s a matter of fairness.

"I think that would just make it more fair to not have people pay the same $35-amount regardless whether they're making $30,000 a year or a million a year," he said.

Novick said if his idea makes it through the City Council, it would be put to the voters. Under the current proposal, if voters reject the change the current arts tax structure would stand.

"We recognize that there are still a few legal challenges to be sorted out, and city council may propose additional changes to the structure of the tax, but nobody is talking about repealing it.," said Jeff Hawthorne, a spokesman for the Regional Arts and Culture Council. "RACC is happy to work with Mayor Hales and city council to make the fund as fair as possible while maintaining the goal of raising $13 million per year for arts education and access."

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly said the proposal would tax 1.5 percent of a person's income. The proposal is actually to tax 1.5 percent of whatever a person owes in Oregon state income taxes.