Portland officials are still holding out big hope that arts tax dodgers will pay up—so much so that they're not charging a penalty for late payments, more than a month past the deadline.

So far, the city has collected less than $7.5 million of the expected $12 million from the $35-per-person tax. City officials are planning on sending residents who did not file by June 10—a deadline already extended twice—a notice in September that their late payment includes a $15 late penalty. But the city is also allowing a waiver on that late fee if they pay within 30 days.

The Portland City Council is also revising their projections on how much the arts tax will bring in to $9.9 and $10.8 million.

Now, in response to the tax's multitude of problems, the Portland Bureau of Revenue is looking at six possible changes to the arts tax, which it is presenting to the City Council today.

The options include:

  • Leaving the $35 tax as is.
  • Raise the tax to $50, but exempt those with an annual income below $1,000 or 200 percent of the federal poverty level, such as individuals making under $22,340 a year or a household of five making less than $54,020.
  • Same as above, but increase the tax to $65 for those making above $75,000 a year.
  • Create three tax levels: $35, $75, and $100 depending on a person’s income. Individuals making under $17,500 are exempt. Those making between $17,501 and $25,000 pay $35, those making between $25,001 and $35,000 pay $75, and those making above $35,000 pay $100.
  • The last two choices get mathy: the city would multiply resident’s taxable income by .15 percent to create a payment, with a $20 minimum and $250 maximum. Another option would be to multiply income by .19 percent, with the same minimum and maximum tax.

Update 3:15 pm: The Portland Mercury is reporting that law professor Jack Bogdanski has filed an appeal of his suit in Oregon Tax Court. The court threw out Bogdanski's original suit on June 4, saying it doesn't have jurisdiction over city taxes.

Charlie Hales