Yuletide Bounty In Oregon

Though most U.S. retailers are worried, there's one state where the Christmas outlook is anything but gloomy. "In Oregon," notes economist John W. Mitchell of U.S. Bancorp in Portland, "consumers are getting a $163 million present from the state just in time for holiday shopping."

The gift comes courtesy of Oregon's booming economy and unusual "kicker law" governing the disposition of excess tax revenues. Passed in 1979, the law requires the state to refund personal and corporate income tax revenues that come in more than 2% above the amounts projected in its biennial budgets.

Such rebates usually take the form of credits to be applied against tax bills due the following April. Indeed, that's the way corporations will receive their rebates of some $167 million. But this year, the GOP legislature decided to return individuals' share of the bounty early--through checks mailed at the start of December. For consumers, Mitchell figures, the average windfall comes to a tidy $100 per taxpayer.

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