REALTORS® Push for Transfer-Tax Ban

October 18, 2012

REALTORS® have committed millions of dollars to an effort to ban real estate transfer taxes in the state of Oregon. Measure 79, which would permanently prohibit these taxes at the state and local levels with the passage of a constitutional amendment, has been supported by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and the Oregon Association of REALTORS® (OAR).

NAR has contributed more than $3.3 million and OAR has given over $2.4 million in support of the ballot measure. The Oregonian newspaper and the Oregon Business Association are among the prominent institutions in the state that have come out against it, Inman News reports.

The current state law on the books prevents any local government from imposing taxes or fees on the transfer of real estate between parties. (Washington County, which includes the western suburbs of Portland, is the lone exception. It presently imposes a 0.1 percent transfer tax, which would not be affected by Measure 79’s passage.)

But REALTORS® argue that the state legislature could change the ban on transfer taxes or impose such taxes itself. And that eventuality seems more likely than ever with the decrease of tax revenues caused by a weak economy, says OAR CEO John Wallace.

“We can’t afford to take that gamble, given the current economic environment,” he explains. “We feel for those municipalities. In fact, our REALTOR® members live in those municipalities. But Oregon property owners already pay some of the highest real estate property taxes in the country. And we don't feel it is prudent to risk another tax on real estate — and the harm it would cause to real estate buyers and sellers and the entire real estate market.”

Wallace adds that while the millions of dollars spent on campaigning for Measure 79 provide no direct benefit to REALTORS®, it does help current and future home owners in the state of Oregon.  

The measure will be on the general election ballots in that state when voters head to the polls on Nov. 6.

Source: “Realtors pushing for pre-emptive bans on transfer taxes,” Inman News (Oct. 17, 2012)