PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The deadline for Portlanders to pay their arts tax is around the corner and many people might be wondering what the money is used for as they place their $35 check in the mail.
The Portland Arts Education and Access Income Tax was approved by voters in 2012 and has since raised $112 million to support arts and culture in the city.
Every year, Portlanders with an income of $1,000 or more must pay the $35 tax. The money the city collects is dispersed to six local school districts and the Regional Arts & Culture Council, also known as RACC. In 2023, the deadline to pay the tax is April 18.
The money given to school districts is used to hire certified arts or music education teachers for kindergarten through fifth grade.
Any funds remaining after the money has been given to the school districts go to RACC.
KOIN 6 News reached out to RACC to ask how they invested their portion of the arts tax funding in 2022.
The council said that in Fiscal Year 2021-2022, it awarded more than $2 million from the arts tax to 127 organizations. The awards ranged from $1,500 to $195,000.
According to Chanda Evans, arts education program manager for RACC, 90% of the arts tax funds RACC receives go out through the RACC General Operating Support program, which provides funding to 63 Portland-based organizations.
These include the Profile Theatre, Northwest Dance Project, Metropolitan Youth Symphony, Oregon Contemporary, the Portland Art Museum, Literary Arts, Bravo Youth Orchestra and more.
Since Fiscal Year 2016-2017, the RACC General Operating Support has expanded to provide funding to more than 20 new organizations such as Street Books, Friends of Noise, and Portland Street Arts.
RACC has also supported 14 organizations through its Capacity Building Program using arts tax funds since Fiscal Year 2017-2018. A few of these organizations include Vanport Mosaic, Theatre Diaspora and the World Arts Foundation.
RACC is required by its contract to use at least 5% of arts tax funds for access grants outside of its General Operating Support program. This money has gone to Kickstand Comedy, Vibe of Portland and Willamette Writers.
The arts tax funds are allocated based on enrollment in schools for the entire district. Schools in the qualifying districts that lie outside of the city of Portland do not receive any arts tax money.
The tax can be paid on the City of Portland Revenue Division website or by downloading, printing, and mailing a form from the same site. Taxpayers filing their taxes online can mail in a check with a voucher printed from the website as well.
According to the website, no account is required to file, and the process should take five minutes.