SALEM, Ore. — Lawmakers in the Oregon House of Representatives passed with unanimous bipartisan support a bill that should provide some relief for many people with lost their homes in the Almeda or South Obenchain fires by slashing property taxes due.
House Bill 2341 changes how property taxes are calculated for victims of natural disasters. Currently, Oregon law allows for property tax proration by adjusting a property’s “real market value,” allowing assessors to subtract the value of destroyed improvements from a home’s value and determine a new maximum assessed value.
“The problem with this approach is that the adjusted RMV often fails to produce any or significant property tax relief,” Representative Pam Marsh’s office said in a statement. Marsh was one of the chief sponsors of the bill.
The new bill streamlines property assessment by directly reducing property taxes in proportion to the loss. If a damaged home is assessed at 50 percent of RMV, then property taxes will be reduced by half.
“This change will ensure that all property taxpayers see some reduction in their property taxes after a disaster,” Marsh’s office continued.
If signed into law, HB 2341 will make these changes retroactive to July 1 of last year, covering survivors of the Almeda and South Obenchain fires, in addition to the other devastating fires in Oregon over 2020.
The change applies to taxpayers whose homes or businesses are damaged or destroyed in a wildfires, floods, or “a single act of God.”
HB 2341 also clarifies that the month in which the disaster occurs is included in the adjusted property tax, wheres the current formula requires taxpayers to pay full taxes for the month of the disaster.
The bill now moves on to the Oregon Senate, and is expected to come up for a vote in the coming weeks.