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Oregon extends tax deadline

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SALEM — Oregonians now have until July 15 to file and pay their 2019 state personal or business income taxes. But any quarterly payments for 2020 still will be due April 15.

The IRS previously extended its deadline to July 15 for filing personal and corporate federal tax returns, paying those taxes, contributing to an IRA for 2019, and making the first quarterly estimated tax payment for 2020. However, for those who make quarterly payments, the “second” payment for 2020 still is due on June 15.

Oregon is not going quite as far. The changes announced Wednesday afternoon by the Oregon Department of Revenue include:

• Oregon personal income tax returns and payments for 2019 are now due July 15.

• For corporate income and excise taxpayers, the deadline for filing returns and payments is extended from May 15 to July 15. Returns due after May 15 do not have extended deadlines.

• The extensions are automatic. Taxpayers do not need to apply for them.

• Any interest and penalties under the extended Oregon tax filings and payments will start accruing on July 16.

• Deadlines for other taxes are not extended. Business groups and some legislators have called for a delay in the new corporate activity tax.

In its announcement, the department said the extensions were because “the governor’s state-declared emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the action of the IRS will impair the ability of Oregon taxpayers to take certain actions within the time prescribed by law.”

“The governor’s clearly stated goal is for Oregon families to stay home, save lives,” said department Director Nia Ray, echoing Gov. Kate Brown’s tagline for social distancing. “After consultation with the state treasurer and state budget officials, the Department of Revenue will extend personal and corporate income tax deadlines during this challenging period.”

They tax payment extension could create up to a $1.5 billion cash-flow problem for the state budget, said Rep. Paul Holvey, D-Eugene, co-chair of the Legislature’s Joint Special Committee on Coronavirus Response.

“That’s a huge cash-flow problem, which probably takes many of the items we want to help with off the table, I’m afraid,” he said during the committee meeting Tuesday.

His comments drew a strong response from Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend.

“Cash flow problems, really? The government just shut down about 90% of our businesses in the state of Oregon, who now have massive cash-flow problems. And the whole reason to delay the filing and payment is for them to be able to catch up,” Knopp said.

“So for the government to, at this point, claim poverty or to claim cash-flow problems after what they’ve done to business, quite frankly just seems incredibly hypocritical.”

Knopp said the deadline should be delayed so businesses could recover and have sufficient cash flow to pay their taxes. Rep. Greg Barreto, R-Cove, agreed and added, “I can tell you right now businesses across the state are laying off.”

The committee also discussed whether to delay implementation of the new corporate activity tax as part of proposals to help businesses and individuals.

Rep. Janelle Bynum, D-Happy Valley, urged the state government to stay disciplined: “That means we find out who’s in trouble and who’s not. I don’t want people who are doing just fine to hide behind those of us who really are struggling.”

Bynum, who co-owns several fast food restaurants in the Portland area, added that she probably wouldn’t have the cash to pay all her taxes.

“I’m one of those businesses that looks like it has a lot of money,” she said, “but it goes out faster than I can keep it. But I’d rather be upfront about what is happening in my business, so that whatever help I need, I know what to ask for.”

Separately on Wednesday, the state Department of Consumer and Business Services issued a temporary emergency order requiring insurance companies to extend grace periods for premium payments, postpone policy cancellations and non-renewals, and extend deadlines for reporting claims.

“Many of our insurers have already stepped up and done the right thing,” Insurance Commissioner Andrew Stolfi said Wednesday. “This order will ensure every Oregonian who needs it has relief from these insurance policy terms, giving them a measure of security and stability.”

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