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April 13th, 2011 MARTY SMITH | Dr. Know
 

Dr. Know: Vancouverites Cometh

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I’ve always been puzzled about the economic matrices of people who work in Portland and live in Vancouver. Do they create a net economic gain or loss for our city and state? —When Yaks Attack

Vancouverites? Ha! Why, I bet those dirty freeloaders are laughing at us right now. You know Washington has no income tax, right? And then I bet they buy all their goods here, and avoid sales tax, too. No wonder the place is so popular with Republicans!

There’s only one problem with this handy slam: it’s not true. Washingtonians who work in Oregon do pay Oregon income tax.

This makes sense, of course—after all, the place where you get the wages should be the place where you’re taxed on them, right? Which is why Portlanders who work in Vancouver don’t have to pay Oregon income tax.

Psych! Just kidding; those folks have to pay, too. It’s kinda cool the way the state doesn’t pin itself down to any one particular rationale when it comes to explaining why you owe it money.

According to Robert Whelan, senior economist at the Portland consulting firm ECONorthwest, Washington residents who work in Oregon contribute a cool $205 million to our tax coffers each year. (For comparison, Multnomah County residents in toto contribute about a billion.) That’s a lot of scratch to fork over to a state you don’t even live in.

“And we get all that without having to provide them with housing, police, fire service or water,” says Whelan. “We should send them a thank-you note, God bless ’em.”

I agree. Thanks, Vancouver! Not only do you collect all the region’s Republicans in one place for easy avoiding, you give us tons of free money. Sure, you don’t waive sales tax for us anymore—but the way we act, who can blame you?

 
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