Oregon bike tax will cost shops big dollars: 'It's not a small amount of money'

An Oregon transportation package includes a flat $15 tax on bicycle sales, a first in the nation. (SBG)

EUGENE, Ore. - Matt Ritzow says Oregon's new bike tax will be bad for business.

"For us it's akin to say a homeowner being told that they will have to pay a couple extra months of rent," said Ritzow, a partner/owner at Bicycle Way of Life.

Once enacted, Oregon will become the first state to tax new bicycle sales. The tax, part of a $5.3 billion transportation package, imposes a $15 flat fee on sales of bicycles $200 and more.

Ritzow's not sure yet if they'll charge the customers or absorb the cost.

"It's not a small amount of money," he said. "It's going to between $8,000 and $15,000 right off our bottom line," he said.

But he says it could have been worse.

The initial legislative proposal was 5 percent, meaning the more expensive the bike, the larger the tax.

But now with the flat $15 rate it shakes out differently.

For a $200 bike, a $15 tax is 7.2 percent.

For an $800 bike, $15 is only 2 percent.

Some cyclists say the tax is needed to pay for infrastructure that includes bike and pedestrian paths.

"If it helps pay for roads and updates and whatnot, it's a pretty nominal charge so I'm not opposed to it," Linn Bennett said.

But Ritzow believes the benfit to the state will not be worth the burden to local bike shops.

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