COVID-19: Helt calls for special session to pass $1.6 billion tax relief package

Bend State Rep. Cheri Helt wants lawmakers to convene an emergency special session to convert the state’s kicker tax credit to a tax refund check sent to Oregonians by Memorial Day.

The Republican said her colleagues should move quickly to “combat the economic hardships facing Oregon families and businesses” dealing with the impacts of COVID-19

“State government is sitting on $1.6 billion of Oregonians money that will do more good in the hands of families than stashed away in a Salem vault,” Helt said. “The legislature should lead now to help families and small businesses weather this financial storm. School closures, shutdowns, and social distancing are critical to slow the spread of the coronavirus, but they also mean financial hardships for the wallets and jobs of Oregon families. Let’s come together to act now.”

In a statement released Saturday evening, Helt said Oregon taxpayers are due roughly $1.6 billion in surplus tax refunds for the 2018 tax year.

Instead of checks, as was the practice until a law change in 2011, the surplus will be returned to taxpayers through a credit on their 2019 state personal income tax returns filed in 2020, Helt said in the statement.

According to projections, the median refund would be about $346 while the average payout to each Oregon taxpayer would be about $740.

She is asking Gov. Kate Brown and leaders of both parties to convene a 24-hour special by the end of March to approve the tax relief package, complete unfinished business from the February legislative session and pass additional public health and economic measures to combat COVID-19.

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