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Office of Management & Finance

Revenue Bureau

Phone: 503-823-5157

Arts Tax: 503-865-4278

111 SW Columbia St, Suite 600, Portland, OR 97201

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FAQs

Arts Tax Frequently Asked Questions
File and/or Pay Online ~ Need more information?  Email us, or call us (503) 865-4278

The Arts Education and Access Income Tax (Arts Tax) will fund Portland school teachers and art focused non-profit organizations in Portland.

Each Portland resident, age 18 and older, must file either:

  1. Arts Tax Return
  • One or more people in the household earn income above the federal poverty level and have $1,000 or more income (tax due); OR
  • You have less than $1,000 of income (do not include income from social security) but live with a spouse or parent that has income above the federal poverty level (no tax due); OR
  • Your income is only from certain non-taxable sources (no tax due).
  1. Request an Arts Tax Exemption
  • Your household is at or below the federal poverty level (all income, including social security, is counted to determine if you qualify) (no tax due)

If due, the Arts Tax is $35 per person. Save time and file online (ACH, Visa or MasterCard - no convenience fees in 2013).

2012 Arts Tax filings received after November 1, 2013 will be assessed a penalty.

If you have already filed, but have a balance due, you can use your confirmation number to pay an Arts Tax bill (by ACH, Visa or MasterCard).

Call 503-865-4ART (4278) to speak to a customer service representative Monday thru Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or email artstaxhelp@portlandoregon.gov.

About the tax

Who pays the tax

Filing & paying the tax

Refund request

About the tax

I do not owe the tax.  Do I still need to file?

Yes. Every adult resident must either file the tax return or the exemption request. If you live in a household above the federal poverty level, but you have less than $1,000 of annual income, indicate "No" when asked if you are an "income earner".  If your only income is from Social Security benefits, pension benefits from the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System (PERS), pension benefits from the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) or interest income from US Treasury bill notes and bonds, indicate “No” when asked if you are an “income earner”.   If your primary source of annual income are those listed previously and any other income you have is less than $1,000, indicate “No” when asked if you are an “income earner”.  Do not pay the $35 tax.

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How was this tax created?

The Arts Education and Access Income Tax was approved by Portland voters in the November 6, 2012 general election (Ballot Measure 26-146).

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When did this tax start?

2012 was the first tax year. The due date for the 2013 tax year is April 15, 2014.

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How much is the tax?

$35 per person.

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Is this a temporary tax?

No.

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Where does the money go?

Net revenues are dispersed to six (6) Portland school districts and to the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC). The money helps arts and music teachers for K-5 students and arts programs citywide.

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Why wasn't this tax added to property tax bills or water bills?

Any bill sent to a specific residential property (like the property tax or the water bill) will not know the number of adults that should pay the tax.  For example, the property tax bill for an apartment complex with 50 units will go to the property manager or property owner, not the individuals who rent the units.  There could be 50 or more individuals at that one complex that owe the tax, yet only one property tax bill is issued.  Similarly, the water bill does not include any information about how many adults live at the residential address or how many have income.

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Is the Arts Tax prohibited under the Oregon Constitution as a poll or head tax?

No. In Wittemyer v. City of Portland, the Multnomah County Circuit Court ruled on June 21, 2013, that “the Arts Tax is not a Poll or Head tax as prohibited by the Oregon Constitution. … The Arts Tax is not a head or poll tax because it is not assessed per capita. In assessing the tax, the City considers a person’s income in three distinct provisions: the tax applies only to (l) income exceeding $ 1,000, (2) non-exempt income sources, and (3) income of individuals residing in households with income above the federal poverty guidelines. Taxpayers who are under the age of 18 are exempt from the tax. The practical effect of the tax is to tax income of certain City residents within a certain income range and is therefore not a poll or head tax.”

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Why do you need the last four (4) digits of my social security number (SSN) and my year of birth?

The IRS and Oregon Department of Revenue (DOR) require a full SSN.  Additionally, the DOR requires the complete date of birth to individually identify taxfilers; we only need the last four (4) digits of your SSN and your year of birth to accomplish this.  For example, according to the White Pages, there are at least 10 men named John Smith living in Portland but none of them have exactly the same year of birth and SSN.  Having the last four (4) digits of the SSN and year of birth ensures we do not confuse one for another.  We also need the year of birth to ensure we do not assess the tax on someone under 18 years old.  Supplying the City with these two (2) key pieces of information will help ensure that your tax payment is properly credited in your name.

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How was the 2012 Arts Tax money distributed?
We have posted the Tax Year 2012 Arts Tax Distributions on the Arts Tax Distributions page.
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Who pays the tax

Who has to pay?

City of Portland residents 18 years or older who have $1,000 or more of annual income and are in a household above the federal poverty level. If your household's annual income is at or below the federal poverty level, you may request an exemption. If you move in or out of Portland during 2013, you still must pay the entire $35 tax.

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Who doesn't pay the tax?

These Portland residents do not pay the Arts Tax:

  1. Individuals who are under the age of 18;
  2. Individuals whose household annual income is at or below the federal poverty level; and
  3. Individuals with less than $1,000 of annual income of any kind.

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How do I know if my address is in Portland?

If you are in Multnomah County, you can easily check your address in Portland Maps to see if you are within the city limits of Portland.  Go to www.portlandmaps.com and enter your address.  Click on the "Assessor" link towards the top of the page. Check your Tax Districts within the "Property Description" section.  Tax District 130 is the City of Portland. If your address has this tax district, you reside within the City of Portland.

If you are in Clackamas County, you can check your address at http://web3.co.clackamas.or.us/taxstatements.  If your property tax statement indicates that you have been assessed property taxes by the City of Portland (City Portland), then you are considered a Portland resident.

If you are in Washington County, you can check your address at http://www.co.washington.or.us/AssessmentTaxation/taxstatements.cfm.  If your property tax statement indicates that you have been assessed property taxes by the City of Portland (City - Portland), then you are considered a Portland resident.

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What is the federal poverty level?

The federal poverty guideline is issued each year in the Federal Register by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  The guidelines are used for administrative purposes — for instance, determining financial eligibility for certain federal programs. The Arts Tax uses this guideline for determining whether a household is exempt from paying the tax.

2013 Poverty Guideline

Persons in Household Poverty Guideline
1 $11,490
2 $15,510
3 $19,530
4 $23,550
5 $27,570
6 $31,590
7 $35,610
8 $39,630

For households with more than eight (8) persons, add $4,020 for each additional person.

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If I work and my spouse doesn’t, do we owe $35 or $70?

In cases where one spouse is "income earning", there would only be one person subject to the $35 tax. If the non-working spouse earned more than $999.99 of annual income, they are “income-earning” and would need to pay the tax, so $70 would be due. For more information about what income is considered, please see the FAQ "When determining if a resident is “income earning”, what income is considered?"

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Do adult children living at home pay the tax?

Adult children living with their parents who earned less than $1,000 of income in 2013 do not pay the tax. Adult children can be added to their parent's tax filing. Indicate whether they have income and owe the $35 tax or if they have annual income under $1,000 and don't owe the tax.

If you are claiming non-taxable income because your only source of income is non-taxable (benefits paid by: Social Security (SS), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), federal Railroad Retirement Act of 1974 (RR), Oregon Public Employee Retirement System (PERS), federal retirement benefits (FERS and CSRS), United States Treasury interest (USTI), or any combination of these benefits), you must send a copy of your 2013 federal tax return and all that apply:

  • Social Security or Railroad Retirement: Copy of your annual benefit statement(s) from the Social Security Administration or Railroad Retirement Act of 1974
  • Oregon PERS / FERS (CSRS): Copy of your 1099-R from PERS, FERS, CSRS
  • Other non-taxable income: Copy of your 1099-INT showing US Treasury Interest or other supporting documentation of non-taxable income

All claims of non-taxable income must have a 2013 federal tax return attached

If you do not have supporting documents or did not file a federal tax return, you must complete federal form 4506-T (Request for Transcript of Tax Return, record of account) or a statement why you cannot provide documentation in the case where you are submitting the claim on behalf of another person. Form 4506-T is available online at: www.portlandoregon.gov/revenue/4506T.

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Do college students pay?

If the student earned more than $999.99 of income in 2013 and is a Portland resident, 18 or over, and in a household that is above the federal poverty level, they would pay the tax. It does not matter where they attend school. Generally, college students are considered Portland residents if they come home to Portland during school breaks.

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What if I live in Portland only part time?

There is no proration of the $35 tax.  You would be subject to the full $35 tax even if you were a resident of Portland for any part of the year.

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I lived in Portland in 2013 and then moved out of Portland in 2014. Do I need to pay the tax?

Yes. Since you resided in Portland during 2013, you would be subject to the tax (due April 15, 2014). You would also be subject to the 2014 tax (due April 15, 2015) because you lived in Portland for a portion of 2014. If you did not live in Portland in 2015, you would not need to file and pay for 2015 (due April 15, 2016). If you do not currently live in Portland when you are preparing your Arts Tax return, you should give your Portland address (before moving out) on your return.

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Is there an upper age limit?

No. The tax is due from residents who are 18 or older.

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When determining if a resident is “income earning”, what income is considered?

All income is considered, regardless of amount. Income can be from wages, self-employment, investments, rentals, retirement, disability, unemployment, spousal/child support, or any other source. "Income" does not include any income a city is prohibited from taxing by state or federal laws.

On the Arts Tax Return (or Tax Info form online) select 'No' to the questions "Income Earner?" if:

  1. You individually have $0 to $999.99 of annual income for 2013; or
  2. Your only income cannot be taxed by the City (examples are Social Security, Oregon PERS pension benefits, FERS pension benefits or interest income from US Treasury bill notes and bonds); or
  3. Your primary income source cannot be taxed by the City (examples above) and you individually have $0 to $999.99 in other income for 2013.

Income for purposes of the household exemption (being at or below the federal poverty level) is defined differently. Refer to that definition if you think you qualify for an exemption from the tax. You must file the exemption form and supporting tax documents by April 15, 2014.

If you are claiming non-taxable income because your only source of income is non-taxable (benefits paid by: Social Security (SS), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), federal Railroad Retirement Act of 1974 (RR), Oregon Public Employee Retirement System (PERS), federal retirement benefits (FERS and CSRS), United States Treasury interest (USTI), or any combination of these benefits), you must send a copy of your 2013 federal tax return and any of the following that apply:

  • Social Security or Railroad Retirement: Copy of your annual benefit statement(s) from the Social Security Administration or Railroad Retirement Act of 1974
  • Oregon PERS / FERS (CSRS): Copy of your 1099-R from PERS, FERS, CSRS
  • Other non-taxable income: Copy of your 1099-INT showing US Treasury Interest or other supporting documentation of non-taxable income

Again, all claims of non-taxable income must have a 2013 federal tax return attached

If you do not have supporting documents or did not file a federal tax return, you must complete federal form 4506-T (Request for Transcript of Tax Return, record of account) or a statement why you cannot provide documentation in the case where you are submitting the return on behalf of another person. Form 4506-T is available online at: www.portlandoregon.gov/revenue/4506T.

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If I just turned 18, do I have to file and/or pay the tax?

If you were 18 years old by December 31, 2013, you must file and pay (if your annual income was $1,000 or more) the tax for 2013. If you live with your parents, they may include you on their tax filing.

If you had less than $999.99 of annual income, you would select “No” on the “Income earner?” line of the Arts Tax Return (or Tax Info form online).

If you are included in a household that is at or below the federal poverty level, you must be included in the exemption filing for the household. Any income you have must be added into your household's income to determine if your household qualifies for the exemption.

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When considering whether a household’s income is at or below the poverty level, are two roommates (as opposed to domestic partners) considered one or two households?

If the roommates are financially independent and are merely sharing the housing expenses, they would be considered two (2) separate households (even though they are occupying the same residence). For more information about what income is considered, please see the FAQ "When determining if a resident is “income earning”, what income is considered?"

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Filing & paying the tax

When is payment due?

Every year on April 15.

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Will I receive a bill?

No. A filing reminder will be mailed on or around March 15, 2014. Remember that you are required to file even if you are do not owe the tax. Providing your email address when you file, whether online or printed form, will allow the Revenue Bureau to send you an electronic reminder notice next year.

If you need to pay your 2012 tax bill, go to "Pay an Arts Tax Bill" and use the confirmation number on your bill to pay.

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Can I file online?

Yes. Online filing is available for both filing the tax return (e.g., paying the tax) and for requesting an exemption. Go to www.portlandoregon.gov/artstax and select "File an Arts Tax return" to pay or "Request an exemption" to file an exemption request.

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Can I pay online?

Yes. Go to www.portlandoregon.gov/artstax and select "File an Arts Tax return" to pay the tax.

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Is there a convenience fee for credit cards and debit cards charged as credit?

People filing for 2013 Arts Tax will not be charged a convenience fee for credit cards and debit cards charged as credit.

People paying a 2012 bill or filing for the 2012 tax year will be charged a 99-cent (99¢) convenience fee for credit cards and debit cards charged as credit.

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Does the Revenue Bureau accept debit cards?

Yes. The Revenue Bureau accepts debit cards charged as credit.

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Is my online transaction secure?

Yes. The site is encrypted and includes visual clues (e.g., closed padlock symbol in the browser). You can view the security certificates by clicking on the padlock.

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Does the City store my online credit or debit card or electronic check (ACH) information?

Only if you choose the “split payment” option (two $18 charges) and then only until the second transaction has processed.  The City does not retain credit or debit card information after a single transaction has cleared or after the second of two transactions has cleared.

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How soon will my online payment post to show that I have paid this year's tax?

Your payment will post to your account on the next business day.

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Can I cancel a payment I just made online?

Yes, but not online. All requests for online payment cancellation must be received before 5pm on the same day the payment was made. Call 503-865-4278, Monday through Friday, 8:00am until 5:00pm, except holidays.

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What are the acceptable forms of payment?

Online:

  • Credit cards (Visa or MasterCard)
  • Debit cards charged as credit (Visa and MasterCard)
  • ACH (electronic check): be sure to pre-authorize your account for ACH payments to avoid unexpected bank charges
  • Mail-in check or money order (fill out the online form and mail in your check)

In person:

  • Cash
  • Check or money order

By Mail:

  • Check or money order accompanied by the Arts Tax Return (Checks payable to 'City of Portland' -- send to PO Box 1278, Portland, OR 97207)

American Express and Discover cards are not accepted at this time.

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I want to pay with cash. How can I do that?

Cash is accepted at our office in downtown Portland.  Our address is 111 SW Columbia St., Suite 600.  Please do not mail cash.

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Do you go by postmark or received date?

Postmark. A payment is considered timely if it is postmarked on or before April 15, 2014.

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Can I get a printed form?

Yes.  However, to reduce administrative costs and the environmental impact of mailing paper forms, and to maximize revenue to local schools and non-profits we ask people with Internet access to file online at www.portlandoregon.gov/artstax.  Both forms, ARTS2013  (to pay the tax) and ARTX2013 (to request a poverty exemption) can be downloaded, just click the link on the form name.  Forms are also available at our office at 111 SW Columbia St., Suite 600, Portland, Oregon 97201.  Finally, we can email the forms to you.

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Can I file an extension?

No. Federal and state income tax extensions are for time to file, not time to pay, and the Arts Tax form is actually easier to complete than a federal extension form. Filing for the Arts Tax requires only five (5) pieces of information: name, address, email address, last four (4) digits of your Social Security Number (SSN) and your year of birth.

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Can I have a payment plan?

Yes. Taxpayers can pay the tax in two (2) payments. There is a $1.00 per person split payment fee. The first payment is due on or before April 15. The second payment is due on May 15.

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What’s the penalty for not paying or filing on time?

  • After April 15: $15 penalty
  • After October 15: $35 penalty

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If I claim to be exempt from the tax by being under the federal poverty level, what type of documentation would I be required to provide in order to verify my income level?

You must send documents that support your household exemption claim. If you request an exemption online you have the option of uploading your documents at the time you make your online request.

You must provide verification documents in order for your exemption to be approved. Please provide a signed copy of your 2013 federal Form 1040 (page 1 and 2). If you are unable to provide this return (for example, you are not subject to the Form 1040 filing requirements), you can provide a copy of a public assistance award letter for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) AND TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) benefits.  If you cannot provide any of these you must provide a completed 2013 federal Form 4506-T (record of account). You can print this form from our website www.portlandoregon.gov/artstax (or www.artstax.net). Please go to our exemptions website if you need more information about exemptions.

Other supporting documents may also be accepted for certain kinds of income. If you have questions, please contact us.

Failure to provide information supporting your exemption will result in denial of your exemption.

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Will there be employer withholding?

No.

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Can I pay the tax for someone else?

Yes, you may file and pay the tax for any adult, even if they don't live with you. If you file online (at www.artstax.net), first you will be asked for your Portland home address (this could be your home address or the address of the person/people you are filing for), billing email, and for the number of taxfilers (you can file for income earning and non-income earning adults). The billing email address and home address will copy to all taxfilers but you can change this information for any (or all) taxfilers. You may file for another adult, your spouse, a parent, or an adult child. You will then be able to pay for everyone in a single payment transaction. If you live outside of Portland you can also file for someone who does live in Portland.

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Is my Arts Tax payment tax deductible?

Taxpayers that itemize deductions on their federal income tax return will generally be able to deduct their Arts Tax payment on their 2014 Schedule A (as State and Local Income Taxes). Consult your tax advisor if you have questions.

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What browsers, platforms, and settings are suggested for online payments and exemption requests?

The Arts Tax website was primarily designed for and tested on PCs running Windows XP or Windows 7, using Internet Explorer or Google Chrome. The bureau performed successful Arts Tax transactions in limited testing on alternative platforms such as Apple computers, mobile phones, and tablets using the top five U.S. browsers (Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Opera); however, some users of alternative platforms and browsers may experience issues.  Security settings, browser add-ons, and features being turned off may all result in issues or the inability to save the receipt as a PDF.

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What is CAPTCHA and why is it used in the online pay the tax form?

The term CAPTCHA (or Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart) was coined in 2000 by Luis von Ahn, Manuel Blum, Nicholas Hopper and John Langford of Carnegie Mellon University. At the time, they developed the first CAPTCHA to be used by Yahoo.

A CAPTCHA is a program that can tell whether its user is a human or a computer.  CAPTCHAs are used by many websites to prevent abuse from "bots," or automated programs usually written to generate spam.  Computer programs generally cannot read distorted text images as well as humans, so bots cannot navigate sites protected by a CAPTCHA.  The CAPTCHA presents these images for humans to decipher as a part of their normal validation procedures.

CAPTCHAs must be accessible. CAPTCHAs based solely on reading text — or other visual-perception tasks — prevent visually impaired users from accessing the protected resource. Such CAPTCHAs may make a site incompatible with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (29 USC 794d) in the United States. Any implementation of a CAPTCHA should allow blind users to get around the barrier, for example, by permitting users to opt for an audio CAPTCHA.  The City of Portland has selected reCAPTCHA to meet this accessibility need.

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Refund request

I paid the Arts Tax in error.  How do I get a refund?

You will need to complete the Arts Tax Refund Request form (AREF 2013) form within 90 days of payment.  You must file the form by that date or you waive your right to receive a refund.  Please call us at 503-865-4278 if you have questions.

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Why do you need my full Social Security number to issue my refund?

IRS regulations require the City to file a 1099 GOV for any income tax refund of $10 or more.  All 1099's require the full Social Security number when transmitted to the IRS

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I paid the Arts Tax in error, but I want to support the arts.  Can I donate some or all of the money to the program?

Yes.  If you do not want a refund of any of the tax you paid, there is nothing you need to do.

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