Tom Testifies at City Council on Employee Paid Payroll Tax

Engagement from Salem Area Chamber of Commerce membership and Board members was significant and noticeable at the July 10 Public Hearing on an employee-paid payroll tax during the Salem City Council meeting (watch the meeting here).

At the conclusion of the Council meeting, Salem Chamber CEO Tom Hoffert stated, “The Council’s vote to move forward with a payroll tax, despite overwhelming opposition and countless requests to take the proposal to the voters, is a disappointing result for our organization and our community. The Salem Chamber believes deeply in the voice of our residents and their ability to be heard through the voting process. While the voice of the people was clearly expressed tonight in City Council Chambers and through unprecedented written testimony, the majority of City Council elected to move forward with a taxation model which will certainly cause division and angst amongst residents and businesses. Our organization will continue to be actively engaged in local decision-making processes and strongly advocate for sound fiscal policies which prioritize public safety and economic opportunities for all Salem residents.”

In-person testimony lasted over two and a half hours with 46 people expressing comments (watch Salem Chamber CEO Tom Hoffert’s testimony here) opposing the tax and that it should be referred to the voters. Seven individuals testified in favor. Additionally, community members submitted 128 pieces of written testimony in opposition, 16 in support, and 27 who expressly stated to refer it to the voters.

Council members voted 5-4 to pass the tax without referring it for a vote.

Click here to read the Chamber’s official press release on the outcome of the vote.

How did your Councilor vote? Find your ward here.

  • Mayor Chris Hoy – IN FAVOR
  • Councilor Virginia Stapleton (Ward 1) – IN FAVOR
  • Councilor Linda Nishioka (Ward 2) – IN FAVOR
  • Councilor Trevor Phillips (Ward 3) – IN FAVOR
  • Councilor Deanna Gwyn (Ward 4) – Opposed
  • Councilor Jose Gonzalez (Ward 5) – Opposed
  • Councilor Julie Hoy (Ward 6) – Opposed
  • Councilor Vanessa Nordyke (Ward 7) – Opposed
  • Councilor Micki Varney (Ward 8) – IN FAVOR

Many questions about this tax do not yet have answers, as the Rule-making process occurs only after the ordinance has passed. As the Rule-making process for this decision is revealed, the Salem Chamber will continue to provide avenues for your voice to be heard.

As it currently stands:

Employers located in Salem will collect the funds on behalf of their employees. Specifics on how the funds will be remitted will be available before the start date, which will be no sooner than July 1, 2024.

Salem workers who earn minimum wage will be exempt.

The payroll tax will apply to those who work within the city limits. This includes those who are self-employed, as well as remote workers and commuters to Salem. Those who earn minimum wage would be exempt.

If your employee works outside the City limits, the payroll tax would not apply.

What other questions do you have? Please email Director of Business Advocacy Lena Prine at with your input.

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