Page:Quarterlyoforego10oreg 1.djvu/315

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Finances of Oregon.

obviating the motives to under assessment. With the effecting of a natural segregation of the sources of revenue and the reservation of property of general situs for state taxes and property of local situs to local governments, the Gordian knot of difficulty arising from apportionment will be cut.[1]

The problem of partial assessment has always been in evidence in Oregon along with that of under assessments. The fact of the incompleteness of the returns of their property made by the tax-payers to the assessors had become so notorious in the very first years of statehood that the second governor (1864) proposed a schedule for listing personal property in order that more of it might be discovered for the assessors' rolls.[2] That one-third of the property was omitted from the assessment roll in 1866, is the estimate of a good authority.[3] Intangible personalty had at this time but little development in Oregon. Conditions would grow worse with larger use of credit in business unless effective means were interposed. The way out of this injustice incident to such partial assessment, through exemption of money and credits and reliance on the compensating force of competition, was barred by the constitutional requirement of the uniform taxation of all property. Legislative effort was made to secure full returns of recorded instruments and bank deposits. The practical effect of this legislation is inextricably interwoven with Oregon's long continued policy of exemption of indebtedness. It is to the wiles of the tax-dodger that this policy fostered, to the shifting of the tax-burden to the humble producer and to the embarrassment of the state official handling such a system, that we now turn.

From earliest territorial days, Oregon has persistently attempted to tax credits as personal property. Only during a period of eleven years, from 1882 to 1893, were mortgages

treated as real property and taxed to the owner of the mort-----

  1. General Laws, 1909, pp. 483, 485-6.
  2. Appendix House Journal, 1864, p. 13.
  3. San Francisco Bulletin, January 31, 1867.