Organization and Government of Cities

ORS 221.515
Privilege tax on telecommunications carriers

  • maximum rate
  • deduction of additional fees


The council of every municipality in this state may levy and collect from every telecommunications carrier operating within the municipality and actually using the streets, alleys or highways, or all of them, in such municipality for other than travel, a privilege tax for the use of those streets, alleys or highways, or all of them, in such municipality in an amount which may not exceed seven percent of the gross revenues of the telecommunications carrier currently earned within the boundaries of the municipality. The privilege tax authorized in this section shall be for each year, or part of each year, that such telecommunications carrier operates within the municipality.


As used in this section, “gross revenues” means those revenues derived from exchange access services, as defined in ORS 403.105 (Definitions for ORS 305.823 and 403.105 to 403.250), less net uncollectibles from such revenues.


A telecommunications carrier paying the privilege tax authorized by this section shall not be required to pay any additional fee, compensation or consideration, including the free use or construction of telecommunications facilities and equipment, to the municipality for its use of public streets, alleys, or highways, or all of them, and shall not be required to pay any additional tax or fee on the gross revenues that are the measure of the privilege tax. As used in this subsection, “use” includes, but is not limited to, street openings, construction and maintenance of fixtures or facilities by telecommunications carriers. As used in this subsection, “additional fee, compensation or consideration” does not include commissions paid for siting public telephones on municipal property. To the extent that separate fees are imposed by the municipality on telecommunications carriers for street openings, construction, inspection or maintenance of fixtures or facilities, such fees may be deducted from the privilege tax authorized by this section. However, telecommunications carriers shall not deduct charges and penalties imposed by the municipality for noncompliance with charter provisions, ordinances, resolutions or permit conditions from the privilege tax authorized by this section.


For purposes of this section, “telecommunications carrier” has the meaning given that term in ORS 133.721 (Definitions for ORS 41.910 and 133.721 to 133.739). [1989 c.484 §5; 1999 c.1093 §10]

Notes of Decisions

Authorization for municipal privilege tax on telecommunications carriers using rights of way does not prohibit municipality from imposing similar tax on entities exempt from definition of telecommunications carrier. AT&T Communications v. City of Eugene, 177 Or App 379, 35 P3d 1029 (2001), Sup Ct review denied

Municipality may impose tax for use of public streets, alleys and highways on telecommunications carrier revenues generated from services other than exchange access services. US West Communications v. City of Eugene, 336 Or 181, 81 P3d 702 (2003)

Where city charges utility fee on plaintiff telecommunications company and privilege tax on utilities that use or occupy city's rights-of-way, this section places limit on rate of privilege tax that city can collect from utility that uses city's streets, alleys or highways but does not prohibit city from charging other taxes and fees for privilege of doing business within city, so city can collect privilege tax and utility licensing fee concurrently from telecommunications company. Qwest Corporation v. City of Portland, 275 Or App 874, 365 P3d 1157 (2015), Sup Ct review denied


Last accessed
Jun. 26, 2021