Mayor's office: Some who paid arts tax didn't need to

PORTLAND, Ore. - Some people who have paid Portland's new arts tax are eligible for refunds, Mayor Charlie Hales' office said Tuesday.

An analysis revealed that some people who received most or all of their income from Social Security or the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) paid the tax, but those types of income are not taxable by the city. That means those people are eligible for a refund.

The Department of Revenue has not estimated how many people are eligible for a refund.

Details about the refund process

Voters approved the tax last November to supports arts programs in public schools. Since then, the tax has been revised twice.

Earlier this year, a tax analysis showed anyone in a household above the federal poverty level was expected to pay the $35 annual tax, even if a person in the home made less than $35, the mayor's office said. The Portland City Council revised the tax to exclude people who made less than $1,000 in 2012.

"This arts tax puts us in a bind," Hales said. "We want to be true to voters, who approved it in November. We have to be good stewards of taxpayers' money. And we want to support the public schools and arts community. These problems - which stem from the way the tax was written - make it difficult to meet all those goals."

The deadline to pay the arts tax is May 15.

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