VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — Should Oregonians have to pay sales tax when they shop in Washington? It’s a question that was up for debate Wednesday in the Washington legislature.
A proposed bill could raise revenue for schools and other services by eliminating exemptions from sales tax, and it could affect Oregonians who cross state lines to shop in Washington.
Jeff Olson, the general sales manager at Shorty’s Garden & Home in Vancouver said he’s built up a devoted group of customers who come across the river from North Portland. He said, without tax exemptions, his business would suffer.
“I think that would drive a lot of those folks back to other Oregon businesses where they wouldn’t have to pay the sales tax,” Olson said.
According to Vancouver State Rep. Jim Moeller, Washington is expected to miss out on $60 million in sales tax revenue within the next 2 years because of the out-of-state exemptions. However, when combined with 10 other exemptions and loopholes democrats are working to close, it amounts to $356 million in forgone revenue.
Moeller said it’s money that could otherwise go to schools and other essential state services.
“The truth is that Oregonians are as likely to pay Washington sales tax as they are to pump their own gas,” Kelly Love with the Vancouver Chamber of Commerce said. “And Washington’s legislature does not understand that. Businesses in Vancouver and Clark County will be hurt when the legislature strips out the sales tax exemption.”
According to Love, requiring Oregon residents to pay sales tax in Washington will hurt businesses. She also said she thinks the $60 million in projected revenue won’t materialize, because fewer Oregonians will shop in Washington altogether.