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Proctor v. City of Portland

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 09-08-2011
Case #: A144782
Haselton, P.J., for the Court; Armstrong, J.; & Duncan, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/A144782.pdf

Tax Law: Despite the 2008 revisions to Portland’s Business License Law, real estate brokers working under principal real estate brokers are not required to pay a portion of their income as a licensing fee.

Plaintiffs were working as licensed real estate brokers under principal real estate brokers. Under ORS 696.365 and ORS 701.015(6)(a), a business license tax may not be imposed on brokers who work under principal real estate brokers. In 2008, the City of Portland revised its Business License Law and required plaintiffs to pay tax on their income. The city claimed that the plaintiffs were subject to the new law because it has become a “pure business income tax,” instead of a prohibited “business license tax.” The trial court granted the city’s motion for summary judgment. On appeal, the Court of Appeals examined the meaning of “business license tax” in ORS 701.015(6)(a), relying on the text, context, and legislative history. The legislative record made it clear that the Business License Law was intended to raise revenue, unlike most other licensing laws. As such, the court found that the 2008 revisions were “immaterial” to the application of ORS 696.365. Thus, the Business License Law does not apply to the plaintiffs in this case. Reversed and remanded.