SALEM, Ore. – The legislature in the Oregon House of Representatives, with the unanimous support of both parties, has passed a law designed to provide some relief to many people who lost their homes in the Almeda or South Obenchain fires by lowering property taxes.
House Bill 2341 changes the way property taxes are calculated for victims of natural disasters. Currently, Oregon law provides for property tax apportionment by adjusting the “real-world market value” of a property so that appraisers can subtract the value of destroyed improvements from the value of a home and determine a new maximum appraisal.
“The problem with this approach is that the adjusted RMV often provides no or only significant relief in property tax,” said representative Pam Marsh’s office in a statement. Marsh was one of the main sponsors of the bill.
The new bill streamlines property valuation by directly lowering property taxes in relation to the loss. If a damaged house is valued at 50 percent of the RMV, the property taxes are reduced by half.
“This change will ensure that all property taxpayers see some reduction in their property taxes after a disaster,” continued Marsh’s office.
With HB 2341 signed into law, these changes will be made retrospectively as of July 1 last year, recording survivors of the Almeda and South Obenchain fires, as well as the other devastating Oregon fires in 2020.
The change applies to taxpayers whose homes or businesses are damaged or destroyed in a forest fire, flood, or “one single act of God”.
HB 2341 also clarifies that the month in which the disaster occurs is included in the adjusted property tax, with taxpayers having to pay full taxes for the month of the disaster under the current formula.
The bill now goes to the Oregon Senate and is expected to be put to a vote in the coming weeks.