Wednesday, February 19, 2020

My Projections: 55,000 Metro Filers (6% of All Filers) Would be Subject to the Proposed Metro Homeless Tax; The Majority Would be Outside Multnomah County.

Two of the many unanswered questions about the proposed metro housing ballot measure are
  1. How many filers would have income sufficient to make them subject to the tax?
  2. How would these filers be distributed by county?
I constructed a table and graphs with my projections. I have pasted those below and posted the table and graph as a PDF file HERE.

My projections:

  • 55,000 filers would have incomes above the reported AGI thresholds subject to the tax. (That's 6% of all 884,000 2017 federal filers).
  • 45% of those filers would be in Multnomah county, 22% in Clackamas county, and 33% in Washington county. (So 55% of filers subject to the tax I project would be outside Multnomah county).
How I Calculated
I used 2017 IRS SOI county data that counts the number of actual federal filers by filing status and by several income groupings.

Because income groupings do not exactly match the reported AGI income tax thresholds for the proposed Metro tax I had to make projections of the percentage of filers in each income grouping who fell above the Metro AGI tax thresholds.

So for single filers for the SOI income group $100,000 to $200,000 AGI I assumed 75% of the actual filers would be subject to the tax (since the reported single filer threshold was $125,000). For joint filers with incomes above $200,000 I assumed 50% would be subject to the tax (with incomes above the $250,000 AGI threshold). And for head of household filers I use the same projected 75% distribution as single filers.

Adjusting the projected percentages that I used would of course change the total number of filers subject to the proposed tax. I suspect (but have not tested to see) that this however may not significantly change the county distribution of those filers subject to the tax.

Caveats/ Limitations
While this exercise provides a reasonable projection of the count of filers and their county distribution:

There may be better data sources that use more recent or more refined income groupings.

The actual distribution within income brackets may not be linear. So for example within the $100,000 to $200,000 AGI bracket there may be more or less than 75% of filers with AGI of more than $125,000. Above $200,000 AGI there may be more or less than 50% who have incomes at or above $250,000 AGI. 

Also the distribution of filers within income brackets in individual counties may vary from the uniform percentages I have used.

It does NOT attempt to show how much tax might be collected. Collection goals,tax rates and income exemptions will influence tax collections .  

The distribution of filers subject to the  proposed tax does not match the distribution of the homeless. This raises the prospect that filers in one county may be asked to provide resources for use to fund homeless programs in another county. (This isn’t really different than paying Oregon income tax and having it disproportionately distributed outside the county where it was collected).

Originally created and posted on the Oregon Housing Blog.

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