Skip to Main Content View Text-Only

The City of Portland, Oregon

Office of the Ombudsman

A division of the Portland City Auditor's Office

phone: 503-823-0144


1221 SW 4th Avenue, Room 310, Portland, OR 97204

Revenue Bureau





The Ombudsman received a complaint that approximately 2,150 residents who lived outside the City of Portland limits paid about $200,000 in Arts Taxes. Most of the residents lived in zip codes on the edge of Portland, but outside the city limits. It was unclear why they paid a tax they did not owe. 

The Ombudsman recommended that the Revenue Division send letters to the residents saying they may be entitled to a refund. Revenue agreed and sent the letters in February 2019. 


A resident received notice that he owed the Arts Tax for 2012. Revenue’s records showed a partial payment -- $17.50. He said he had paid the full $35 every year.

The Ombudsman investigated and determined that Revenue applied half his 2012 payment to his wife's account -- even though she had died several years earlier. Revenue acknowledged the error and cancelled the past due notice. 


A resident contacted the Ombudsman after not being permitted to file a complaint with the Revenue Bureau’s Towing and Private Property Impound Program. The bureau said the resident lacked the requisite legal standing to file a complaint. The resident had wanted to raise concerns about the conduct of a private towing company and the City’s policy on towing a vehicle with an animal inside. 

The Ombudsman determined that City Code did not require legal standing in order for a person to file a towing complaint. After extended discussion, the Revenue Bureau agreed with the Ombudsman’s assessment and the bureau subsequently conducted an investigation into the resident’s complaint. The bureau also proposed changes to the Towing Code clarifying the rights of vehicle owners with respect to animals in towed vehicles.