Portland Courthouse, by Mac Smiff

Photo by Mac Smiff

Interacting with the court system comes with fines and fees. When people fail to pay courts in time, their debts become “delinquent” and subject to more aggressive collection tactics. 

In Oregon, when circuit court debts become delinquent, the Oregon Department of Justice refers the debt to the Oregon Department of Revenue (ODOR), which has the authority to take debts out of peoples’ wages and tax refunds, which people receive after overpaying on their taxes. The ODOR then disperses the collected debt back to the courts.

Data obtained by We Out Here Magazine via a freedom of information request show the total delinquent debts garnished from wages and tax refunds for each county circuit court, and the Oregon circuit courts. In 2020 and 2021 a total of $28.6 million was collected through these mechanisms. (The data, published below, cover 2019, 2020, and 2021.)

For example, the Umatilla Circuit Court collected $147,923.87 from tax refunds and $155,489.22 from wages, in 2020. Multnomah County Circuit Court got 1,333,846.06 from tax refunds and $1,419,153.51 from wages, in 2020. When parking violations are included, these totals jump to $2,879,154.83 and $2,670,843.48 in Multnomah County. The Oregon circuit courts intercepted tax refunds totalling $3,464,684.58 in 2020 and 3,140,101.55 in 2021.

Check out the data to see how much your county circuit court took from peoples’ wages and tax refunds.