History of the Assessor

Assessor Pre-1991

History of the Office of Assessor

The office of the assessor was created by the provisional government in 1844. The Legislative Assembly decreed that assessments were to be made by the sheriff in 1845. The contradictions were eliminated in 1850 when the assessor was authorized to make assessments and the sheriff was authorized to collect taxes. Now, no sheriffs collect taxes in Oregon.

Assessor's Job

The assessor, elected to four year-terms, assesses the value of taxable property and enters that information into assessment and tax rolls. The assessor certifies tax levies and delivers tax rolls to the tax collector for collection. The office also maintains property ownership records and maps, receives budgets, and extends levies to other taxing districts such as library and sewage. The state, through statutes and administrative rules, sets most of the parameters related to the procedures involved in the assessment of property taxes in Oregon.

History of Property Taxes in Oregon

Property taxes were the only tax in Oregon from 1859 to 1929. In 1916 Oregon had its first property tax limitation measure: Taxing District levies were limited to a 6% annual growth. In 1929 the State Income Tax was passed by the Legislature. In 1942 the two taxes and their revenue were split: Income Tax revenue was assigned to the state to support state government services; Property Tax revenue was assigned exclusively to the local government districts and local school districts.

Assessor Post-1991

1991: Measure 5 (M5):

  • M5 still based the amount of taxes on RMV. However, Measure 5 created a cap on the number of monies taxing districts could receive if they passed a certain limit.
  • The categories were broken down into Government and Education.
  • The initial fiscal year of 1991 to 1992 placed a limit of $15 on Education and $10 on Government.
  • From 1995 to 1996 the cap had ratcheted down to $5 on Education while Government stayed at $10.
  • If a property reaches its limit on either category, taxes above that limit are compressed off the tax roll.
  • Education experiences far more monies compressed off the tax roll than the government.
  • Measure 5 still is in effect today.

1996 / 1997 Measure 47 (M47) & Measure 50 (M50):

  • In 1996 M47 was voted into law. However, major flaws existed in the law and in 1997 a revised form M50 was voted into the Oregon Constitution.
  • Prior to M50, taxes were based on RMV. M50 created a 2nd value on all property called the Maximum Assess Value (MAV)
  • If a property existed in 1997, the MAV was established by taking the 1995 RMV - 10%.
  • Once MAV is set on a property, it grows by 3% annually.
  • The 3% rule has a pro and a con. When the real estate market is robust, the assessed is limited to the 3% growth. However, when the real estate market collapses, the RMV plummets but the MAV still grows. MAV is set, the only way for the tax burden decrease on the property is if the RMV falls below the MAV. Please refer to the following graph:

Growth and Decline of real estate prices from 2003 to 2013