Oregon to No Longer Offer Tax Breaks for Pollution Controls

Oregon's Pollution Control Tax Credits program, first established in 1967 under then Gov. Tom McCall, will be ending this year, the state Department of Environmental Quality announced on Sept. 27.

The program has been providing tax relief to Oregon businesses and individuals for controlling or reducing contaminants and waste materials that would otherwise pollute the environment for 40 years. The tax credit is one of the largest of the Oregon tax credits and had at times been utilized more than the Child and Dependent Care tax credit.

Oregon's legislature initially established the program to compensate Oregon businesses suddenly faced with huge costs for meeting new air and water quality standards. Originally, businesses could elect to reduce their Oregon tax liability or exempt their pollution control facility from property tax.

The program has changed little from its beginning. Most common use of the credit is for environmental improvements and controls installed to meet state or federal requirements. In 2001, the Oregon legislature renewed the program to "provide incentives for the voluntary prevention, elimination, reduction or control of pollution" in hopes of making it easier for Oregon businesses to finance and implement voluntary pollution reductions and sustainable practices that weren't required by law.

Exemption from property tax was later limited to cooperatives and non-profit organizations. In addition, the program expanded to include noise pollution, recycling and recovery of hazardous waste, solid waste and used oil, as well as incentives for alternatives to field burning.

For a history of the Pollution Control Tax Credits program including facts, figures and statistics, visit http://www.deq.state.or.us/msd/taxcredits/pcftc.htm.

This article originally appeared in the 09/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.

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