Property Tax Resources

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Oregon Property Tax Updates

UPDATED september 2023

Oregon Taxation of Delta Airlines Intangible Property Unconstitutional

In Oregon, centrally assessed properties have historically been subject to assessment of their intangible property. While locally assessed properties are statutorily exempt from taxation of intangible property, which includes a business’s work force, customer lists, patents, trademarks, trade secrets, goodwill, and contacts. 

In a significant decision, the Oregon Tax Court concluded that this statutory scheme, the taxation of intangible property listed for centrally assessed businesses, violated the Oregon Uniformity Clause and the federal Equal Protection Clause. The opinion was specific to Delta Airlines, because the court found no genuine differences between Delta’s (taxable) use of intangible property in its transportation business and the (exempt) use of intangible property in road transportation businesses or other businesses that rely on a network of property. How the court will later interpret “other businesses that rely on a network of property” is yet to be seen.

In this same decision, the court rejected the PacifiCorp’s regulated utility challenge because the court found genuine differences between PacifiCorp’s (taxable) use of intangible property in its business as a regulated public utility and (exempt) uses of intangible property in non-regulated businesses. Additionally, the court concluded the legislature could have determined that taxing the value of intangible property of a utility compliments the regulatory scheme by redistributing for public purposes some value that accrues through regulated operation that would otherwise be inure to investor-owners. 

As of the date of this writing, the Department of Revenue had not appealed this decision.

Delta Air Lines, Inc. v. Dep't of Revenue, No. TC 5409, 2023 WL 5425246 (Or. T.C. Aug. 23, 2023).

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