Gov. Brown Introduces First Property Transfer Tax in Eight Years

Gov. Kate Brown has proposed a new property transfer tax to provide funding for affordable housing, putting her at odds with legislation dating back to 2012.  

Eight years ago, the state constitution was amended by Measure 79 to prohibit “tax, fee or other assessment upon the transfer of any interest in real property, or measured by the consideration paid or received upon the transfer of any interest in real property.” The measure was introduced in the wake of the great recession and saw widespread support from real estate and business groups, passing with 59 percent of the vote.  

Now it’s being challenged by Brown’s House Joint Resolution 203, which would tax real estate transactions past the first $500,000 of a property’s value. Brown says the objective is “to fund or finance affordable housing,” although neither the rate of taxation nor funding goals have been set yet.  

The governor’s housing policy adviser, Shannon Singleton, told OPB “Outside of how we build, construct and develop housing, we don’t have an ongoing dedicated source of funding to provide the services. Local jurisdictions don’t necessarily have the ability to meet service level needs without some sort of new revenue.”  

On the other hand, the Oregon Association of Realtors is “extremely concerned” over the measure, according to lobbyist Shaun Jillions, despite Brown’s reassurances that she “wasn’t going to push it very hard this session.”  

“We do not feel like a real estate transfer tax is the right approach to funding societal needs,” Jillions said. “We’re taking it very seriously.”  

By Brandon Urey