Early numbers from Oregon bike tax fall flat

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The state had projected Oregon's love of cycling would bring in around $1 million annually from a bike tax, but the early returns show the tax is falling flat.

The tax is $15 on the sale of every new adult-sized bike statewide. Oregon's Department of Revenue says the tax has brought in $77,000 through mid-May. The administrative costs have run $47,000 in just the first three months.

"I always thought that it would be relatively small, especially in comparison with how much money it would cost to administer it," said Tony Pereira, owner of Breadwinner Cycles in North Portland.

The state has only netted $30,000, and that doesn't account for the money spent collecting the tax in the weeks following April 1.

"I absolutely think smart people in Oregon should organize and get this tax removed," said Jonathan Maus, a journalist and bicycling advocate behind the blog BikePortland.org

Maus has been a staunch opponent of the tax, and initially broke the story surrounding the lackluster early returns to the Department of Revenue.

"No matter how you feel on the issue, there's not going to be any revenue coming in from this," Maus said. "You're also taking resources and capacity away from government to collect something that shouldn't be collected."

Not all bicycle sales are taxed, though the Oregon legislature expanded the number of bikes that would be taxed. Wakefield Gregg owns The eBike Store in North Portland, and so far he's skirted the tax. He anticipates his flock of rides will soon be subjected to it, and while he's not wild about the tax, he says it does serve a purpose.

"I'd rather have a place at the table than none at all," Gregg said. "And have a way to pay for the infrastructure we so desperately need."

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