Oregon might be the first state to introduce a specific tax on new bicycles, if a massive state transportation bill is passed.
Within the 298 pages of recommendations for improving Oregon’s roads and revenues is mention of a three-to-five percent tax on sales of new bicycles, which would be implemented next year. The Statesman Journal reports that the proposed changes—including the bike tax—would bring $509.1 million in revenue to the state in 2018.
Oregon would be the only state to have a tax like this, according to OPB. The state currently levies no sales taxes.
The tax would only apply to adult bikes costing more than $500. But for owners of small bike shops, that tax might mean the difference between someone buying a performance bike, or opting for a cheaper model—or maybe taking their business out of state.
The proposed bill was written in part by Senator Lee Beyer (D-Springfield), who serves on the Joint Committee on Transportation Preservation and Modernization as part of the Public Transit/Bike/Ped/Safety Work Group. It was introduced in a hearing May 31, but the idea behind the bill is a group effort that’s been in the works for months.
“They felt that bicycles ought to contribute to the system, bicycle owners ought to contribute to the system, irrespective of the fact that most of them also own a car,” Beyer told OPB in an interview.
He did add that the tax actually shows Oregon is committed to cyclists in a big way: Revenue would allegedly be toward improving cycling infrastructure, though as of right now, there isn’t a specific guarantee in place for that. (It’s also unclear whether that would be the revenue’s exclusive use.)
Advocacy groups and shop owners aren’t yet convinced of this, and want to see proof that the money collected from the tax would go back into funding bicycle infrastructure.