Business Tax Relief Remains a Focus – But Specifics Still Elusive

An article in the Baltimore Sun echoes the prevailing sentiment from Annapolis stakeholders and from the recent MACo conference — that business tax relief will receive much attention in the coming session, but the specifics of any one plan are not evident.

From the Sun article:

Lowering taxes for business is likely to be a focus of Annapolis lawmakers in the new year, as Gov. Larry Hogan seeks to deliver on promises made during the election and Democrats look to burnish their credentials with business.

While momentum is gathering for reform, just what shape that tax relief may take — and how far it will go — remains unclear.

Lowering the corporate income tax rate of 8.25 percent in some way is likely to get backing from both the bipartisan panel organized by Democratic legislative leaders to address the state’s business climate and from the Hogan administration, said Del. Wendell R. Beitzel, a Republican who represents Garrett and Allegany counties and serves on the panel.

While that may serve as a strong symbolic move, lawmakers and economists said it will be far harder to address the state’s unusually high personal income taxes that — along with high utility bills — drive up the cost of doing business in Maryland.

County governments may or may not have a direct stake in the efforts being considered. County income tax and property tax rates are set independently by county elected officials, but in many cases the “tax base” is a function of state law. Income tax exemptions or subtraction modifications, or property tax exemptions or credits, would have a pass-through effect on county revenues without any local adoption process, which MACo has historically resisted.

Read the full Sun coverage online.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties