Oregon Tax Credit

Oregon Political Tax Credit

It's your fifty bucks. Use it or lose it.

The Oregon Political Tax Credit is one of those progressive ideas that makes Oregon a great place to live, work, and play.

Through our tax system, the State of Oregon gives each tax-paying Oregonian a $50 gift. But you can't keep it. Instead, you must either pay it back in state taxes -- or donate it to a qualified political campaign or cause.

To put it another way: By donating $50 to a political campaign of your choice, you can reduce your taxes or increase your refund by that same $50 (assuming you pay at least $50 in taxes). That's right: it's a full 100% credit, not a deduction.

The bottom line? By contributing $50 to a progressive political campaign, you can make Oregon a better place - and it won't cost you a dime. Married, filing jointly? It's $50 per person - so you and your spouse can donate $100 and get it all back!

How do you claim the $50 tax credit?

In 2009, it was on line 37 of the Form 40, the long form.

If you filled out the short form, Form 40S, it was on line 16, "Other credits". The credit was identified by entering 723 in 16A and the amount in 16B.

There are some limitations. Here's what the state tax instructions said for 2004 taxes:

Political contribution credit. Fill in your total political contributions, but not more than $100 on a joint return or $50 on all others. You must have contributed money during 2004 to any of the following:
  • A political party.
  • A qualified candidate (or the candidate‚Äôs principal campaign committee) for federal, state, or local office to be voted for in Oregon.
  • A political action committee certified in Oregon.

So, basically any candidate or measure on the ballot in Oregon, any political party, or any political committee registered in Oregon. (But not a 501c3 nonprofit; those are deductible elsewhere.) More info from the state of Oregon.

One more thing: The Oregon Political Tax Credit is not a refundable credit. So, if your taxes are already zero, then you won't get your $50 back.