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Transportation Democrats Government United States Politics

Oregon Passes First Statewide Bicycle Tax In Nation ( 708

turkeydance writes: In Oregon, a state known for its avid bicycling culture, the state legislature's approval of the first bike tax in the nation has fallen flat with riders. Democratic Gov. Kate Brown is expected to sign the sweeping $5.3 billion transportation package, which includes a $15 excise tax on the sale of bicycles costing more than $200 with a wheel diameter of at least 26 inches. Even though the funding has been earmarked for improvements that will benefit cyclists, the tax has managed to irk both anti-tax Republicans and environmentally conscious bikers. The bike tax is aimed at raising $1.2 million per year in order to improve and expand paths and trails for bicyclists and pedestrians. Supporters point out that Oregon has no sales tax, which means buyers won't be dinged twice for their new wheels.
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Oregon Passes First Statewide Bicycle Tax In Nation

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  • Hmmm. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by msauve ( 701917 ) on Tuesday July 18, 2017 @09:28PM (#54836347)
    Obviously an initiative being pushed by bike shops in neighboring states.
    • Re:Hmmm. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Tuesday July 18, 2017 @09:32PM (#54836367)

      Also by manufacturers of bicycles costing $199, and for tire companies specializing in 25.5" and smaller.

      • Re:Hmmm. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Tuesday July 18, 2017 @10:56PM (#54836709)
        To avoid the $15 tax, I'm going to sell 24" bicycles with a $20 conversion kit to convert them to 26".

        Based on the responses here, people would queue up to spend $5 to make sure the government didn't get any income.
        • There is no need for a convertion kit, somewhat larger clearances and disc brakes are enough.

        • by hey! ( 33014 )

          I'm happy to pay my $30 annual fishing license, which pays for conservation and access programs, as well as a fish stocking program I'm not particularly partial to but serves a purpose for young anglers. It costs less than the sport fishing conservation organizations I belong to, and probably does more.

          I'd be happy to pony up $12 on a bike, but I do see some difficulties. Money spent on access or conservation anywhere in the state benefits me as a fisherman, but bicycle infrastructure spending largely ben

    • Re:Hmmm. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 18, 2017 @10:10PM (#54836539)

      I want all the benefits that tax money supports. I just don't want to pay money to get them.

      • Re:Hmmm. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Tuesday July 18, 2017 @11:02PM (#54836747)

        Actually, from the anti-tax Republicans/Libertarians it would be: "I don't think the government should be in the business of providing these benefits."

        And the pro-environment types would be like: "I want the government to encourage environmentally-friendly transportation by subsidizing it."

        So both groups are being quite rational. Neither is thinking like the way you've set up your straw man.

  • by billrp ( 1530055 ) on Tuesday July 18, 2017 @09:32PM (#54836363)
    $15 per limb at time of purchase
  • Only $1.2M? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Tuesday July 18, 2017 @09:35PM (#54836383)

    Will $1.2M even pay for the administrative overhead for the state to collect and disburse the money?

    • by jopsen ( 885607 )
      Yeah, that's exactly what I think to myself, whenever I hear sugar-tax, fat-tax and other super specific tax schemes...

      I think cars, gasoline and energy are such massive specialized industries that taxing them individually makes sense... Same for housing, but for many other products the administrative overhead and complexity of enforcement, just seems to make it pointless..

      As with software, you need to keep your systems simple.
    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      A bike tax is an old tax in some parts of the world.
      In German but the pictures and dates should give some idea to what a bicycle tax looks like []
  • Seems to me the simple solution to a (stupid) new tax is to start selling bikes with 24" wheels.

    Which has the added benefit of annoying the hell out of the Governor and Legislature....

  • It makes sense. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BitterOak ( 537666 ) on Tuesday July 18, 2017 @09:37PM (#54836399)
    When I buy gasoline for my car, I pay a tax which is used for the construction and upkeep of roads. I also pay a fee when I register my vehicle each year which goes to the same purpose. Bicycles don't consume gasoline, nor does one pay a registration fee, yet it does cost money to build and maintain bike paths. Yes, bicycles are more environmentally friendly and their use should be encouraged, but there are costs to supporting cyclists other than air pollution. Why shouldn't bicyclers pay their fair share?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dfghjk ( 711126 )

      Who says they don't? Their fair share is not determined by whether they pay an extra tax at the time of purchase.

      When cyclists ride bikes, everyone benefits. Should everyone else pay a tax for not riding a bicycle? Why shouldn't they pay their fair share too?

      Governments exist to serve the public. Not everything they do must be funded directly by each person who might benefit, rarely does that occur, in fact.

    • Re:It makes sense. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by BarbaraHudson ( 3785311 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `nosduharabrab'> on Tuesday July 18, 2017 @10:08PM (#54836535) Journal
      There are cost SAVINGS to supporting cycling. Not just in the externalities of pollution that car users avoid paying, but also less competition for parking spaces, fewer vehicles double-parked (think bike courriers as compared to car courriers), the indirect cost of cars vis. obesity and general health, etc.
    • When I buy gasoline for my car, I pay a tax which is used for the construction and upkeep of roads. I also pay a fee when I register my vehicle each year which goes to the same purpose. Bicycles don't consume gasoline, nor does one pay a registration fee, yet it does cost money to build and maintain bike paths. Yes, bicycles are more environmentally friendly and their use should be encouraged, but there are costs to supporting cyclists other than air pollution. Why shouldn't bicyclers pay their fair share?

      Mass transit is subsidized, and it much worse for the environment and public health than cycling.
      Also cyclists pay city taxes, and the city is usually spending for most of the bike paths, which are less expensive than roads.
      Most of gas taxes go to a larger area (state/province/country) and is usually spent on stuff such as highways on which cyclists and pedestrians aren't even allowed to go.

    • Re:It makes sense. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Antibozo ( 410516 ) on Tuesday July 18, 2017 @11:48PM (#54836977) Homepage

      What you are overlooking is that the vast majority of cyclists own cars also. This means they're paying those registration fees right along with you. As for the gas taxes, the amount of gas tax not paid because of cycling is very small, because most cycling trips are short. For trips that require significant gas, most cyclists get in those cars they own.

      Meanwhile, when they're not in their cars, cyclists are using up far less space on the road, and causing no damage to the road surface.

    • Excise taxes only pay a small portion of the costs of the automobile

      From [] infrastructure.

      Roads don’t pay for themselves.

      Nearly as much of the cost of building and maintaining highways now comes from general taxes such as income and sales taxes (plus additional federal debt) as comes from gasoline taxes or other “user fees” on drivers. General taxes accounted for $69 billion of highway spending in 2012.
      Roads pay for themselves less and less over time. In the

  • Several years ago when I needed a new car National City (home of the Mile of Cars), and I think El Cajon had an extra sales tax on cars. Guess what? I didn't even shop there, bought my car in Carlsbad.

    This kinda shit only helps short sighted feel good types who can't be bothered to see how real world consumers will react.
  • by oldgraybeard ( 2939809 ) on Tuesday July 18, 2017 @10:26PM (#54836595)
    If it continues to move you tax it more! Once all activity stops, the tax rate is correct ;)

    A majority of all funds paid for transportation at all levels of government is just diverted to other stuff and has been for years. It is just the politicians and bureaucrats bonus slush fund. Last year they patched pot holes in front of my house and I got a special assessment ;)
  • by Charcharodon ( 611187 ) on Tuesday July 18, 2017 @10:38PM (#54836633)
    and the money will end up going to everything but new bike paths. A good 1/3 of it will be eaten up in paychecks and benefits for what ever little office that will suddenly triple in size because of the new money. That and the money will end up only in pet projects near the homes of the most powerful rather than in "best bang for your buck" projects that will actually be useful to the public at large.
    • you're wrong about the money just going to paychecks. It'll go to services, just not bike paths. Taxes like this are used to finance tax cuts for the rich. Lotteries too. All sorts of things. It's a "regressive" tax.
  • Anti-tax Republicans and Environmentally conscious bikers? Whose going to put on their fundraiser? Martha Stewart and Dan Barber
  • The tax is on bicycles that cost over $200.

    No-one said a "bike" has to be something that comes with wheels. Or a handlebar. Or a seat...

    By following the successful App model, you can offer many optional purchases to bring the cost of a good core "bike" well below the tax.

    If the tax people get sticky, one store sells the core bike and a legally separate entity sells the accessories...

    As an added bonus, every bike is now way more customizable and I think you'll find you can mark up accessories quite handily

  • by MostAwesomeDude ( 980382 ) on Wednesday July 19, 2017 @12:48AM (#54837191) Homepage

    This is a non-issue.

    Will the poor be affected? Not really; the law only applies to new bicycles, and the poor buy used. There is a massive economy in secondhand bicycles; I am a dozen blocks from a secondhand bicycle shop, not because I happen to live in a particular neighborhood, but because it's hard not to be a dozen blocks from a secondhand bicycle shop in the Willamette Valley.

    Is this an unfair amount? Well, the same law in the same package also applies a tax to new motor vehicles, and it's 0.5% of retail price. A $20k car comes with a tax of $100. Nobody seems to be complaining about that!

    I suspect that bicyclists are irritated that this tax is brand-new, smells like a sales tax, doesn't exist anywhere else, and seems disproportionate. I'd like to remind them that the extensive and amazing bicycle paths that cities like Eugene and Portland have are not free for the cities to maintain.

    Make sure to read the law; it starts at page 187 of []

  • by kiviQr ( 3443687 ) on Wednesday July 19, 2017 @12:51AM (#54837199)
    simple solution add to the cost of gasoline! Joke aside, it would push more people into biking making state healthier!
  • Idiots (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nightfire-unique ( 253895 ) on Wednesday July 19, 2017 @02:38AM (#54837459)

    By definition (confirmed by observation), taxes disincentivize activity. In an age where cyclists are literally saving the planet, a tax on them, discouraging their use, is patently absurd.

    Fuck those assholes.

  • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Wednesday July 19, 2017 @05:31AM (#54837799)

    This is an utterly stupid way of building general use infrastructure right up there with toll roads. I know people love the idea of why should I pay for someone else benefit, without realising that they directly benefit as others do.

    A cyclist on a cycle path is a car not contributing to the traffic jam I'm stuck in. Same with toll roads. When 80000 cars drive through a toll road it means 80000 less cars in the way of the people who don't pay the toll.

    There's a reason infrastructure is built from pooled taxes. The user pays system is a great way to achieve very little.

Competence, like truth, beauty, and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter