In Short

Oregon starts sending $600 checks to low-income workers

By: - June 23, 2022 3:33 pm

Flags on a desk in the House chambers at the Oregon State Capitol on Monday, Sept. 20, 2021. (Amanda Loman/Oregon Capital Chronicle)

More than 236,000 Oregon families will each start receiving a $600 payment this week under a new state law that aimed to aid low-income workers. 

Direct deposits or paper checks are going to people who lived in Oregon for the last six months of 2020 and claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit, a tax break for low-income workers, on their 2020 taxes. Single people who claimed the credit earned less than $16,000, while married couples with three or more children earned less than  $57,000. 

More than 136,000 Oregon taxpayers will see $600 deposited in their bank accounts before July 1, while more than 99,000 more will find paper checks in their mailboxes over the next week. They’ll also receive letters explaining the payment. 

In total, almost $142 million will go to low-income households. Lawmakers who supported the program said it will allow those Oregonians to pay for necessities such as rent and groceries. 

“While Oregon’s economy has recovered quickly from the pandemic, we know this recovery was not felt the same across all of Oregon’s workers,” Sen. Kathleen Taylor, D-Portland, said when the law passed. “We have an urgent opportunity to support the equitable recovery of our workforce by sending relief to low-wage individuals and working families with the greatest need.”

The one-time payments come as inflation is at a 40-year high. In May, state economists reported that 80% of Oregon workers now earn less, adjusted for inflation, than they did pre-pandemic. 

Rural residents in eastern and southern Oregon, where average incomes are lower than urban areas, will benefit from the payments. Statewide, one out of six taxpayers qualified for the credit, according to the Oregon Department of Revenue. Malheur County has the highest rate, at 23%, and Washington the lowest, at 9%.

The state’s payments to low-income workers follow three federal stimulus payments totaling $3,200, plus additional payments for dependents, during the Covid pandemic in 2020 and early 2021.

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Julia Shumway
Julia Shumway

Julia Shumway has reported on government and politics in Iowa and Nebraska, spent time at the Bend Bulletin and most recently was a legislative reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times in Phoenix. An award-winning journalist, Julia most recently reported on the tangled efforts to audit the presidential results in Arizona.