The segments below provide a brief overview of MACo’s work to protect and grow county revenues in the 2017 General Assembly.
Follow links for more coverage on Conduit Street and MACo’s Legislative Database.
MACo successfully supported a bill which repeals the requirement that local governments must reimburse the Local Income Tax Reserve Account for overpayments of local income tax revenue distributions made by the Comptroller. Senate Bill 397/House Bill 1433 allows for funds to be drawn from the Account, rather than local government budgets, to rectify errors for which they are not responsible. The legislation has passed the General Assembly and is awaiting the Governor’s signature. Bill Information | MACo Coverage
Many, Many Refunds
MACo sought to oppose a bill that would have allowed a taxpayer who did not file a protective claim to file an amended income tax return, going back to tax year 2006, to claim a refund pursuant to the final decision under Maryland State Comptroller of the Treasury v. Brian Wynne. The hearing on Senate Bill 345 was cancelled and no further action was taken. Bill Information
Every year, many bills are introduced in the General Assembly that reduce or adjust the income taxes paid by residents of Maryland. Some of these bills, called subtraction modifications, cause a decline in local revenues – even if it appears that only the State is granting the tax break. MACo suggests that instead of subtraction modifications, legislation could provide state tax credits, funded with state but not local income tax revenues, which do not deplete county resources for education, public safety, and needed community services.
Senate Bill 597/House Bill 100, referred to colloquially as the “Hometown Heroes Act” and substantially similar to the Administration’s Senate Bill 322/House Bill 388 of that name, provides for a subtraction modification for the first $15,000 of retirement income for individuals at least 55 years of age who are retired law enforcement officers or fire, rescue, or emergency services personnel. MACo opposed this legislation on the grounds that it would cause local revenues to decrease by $2.5 million in FY 2018 and by $2.8 million in FY 2022. This legislation was passed by the General Assembly and awaits the Governor’s signature. Bill Information | MACo Coverage
MACo also opposed two bills creating a subtraction modification equal to 100% of the total interest paid on qualifying student loans if the taxpayer earns under certain income thresholds. House Bill 196 and the Administration’s Senate Bill 320/HB 399 “Student Debt Relief Act of 2017” did not advance out of committees in either chamber.
Find Conduit Street coverage of a number of income tax subtraction modification bills here.
MACo supported several pieces of legislation that provide counties more flexibility to provide property tax breaks. None of the bills listed below set any mandates on counties, but rather, provide broader leeway to provide tax breaks as appropriate for their jurisdictions.
MACo successfully supported legislation that extends the deadline for local governments to set or change their homestead property tax credit percentage, moving it from November to March. House Bill 351 passed the General Assembly and awaits the Governor’s signature. Bill Information | MACo Coverage
MACo supported a bill to authorize local governments to grant optional property tax credits to homeowners who make improvements to their homes in specified “revitalization districts,” as designated and determined by the local jurisdiction granting the credit. House Bill 1323 was passed by the General Assembly and awaits the Governor’s signature. Bill Information | MACo Coverage
MACo supported with amendments a bill to create a tax incentive program to encourage businesses to locate and expand in several jurisdictions suffering economic stresses. MACo’s amendments expanded the program participation to “distressed areas” in any jurisdiction and limited the tax deductions to businesses moving into or expanding within Maryland, to prevent against businesses relocating inside the state. Senate Bill 796 did not advance out of committee. Bill Information | MACo Coverage
Fending Off Revenue Source Elimination
MACo helped stop a bill that would have eliminated a significant revenue source to counties by exempting all personal property from personal property taxes, other than railroad, public utility or specified telecommunications personal property. House Bill 215 received an unfavorable report and was withdrawn. Bill Information | MACo Testimony
MACo successfully amended a bill requiring counties to pay refunds resulting from property tax assessment appeals within an established time frame. House Bill 1402 passed both chambers with MACo’s amendments, to make the bill’s requirement more feasible for county governments to carry out. It now awaits the Governor’s signature. Bill Information | MACo Coverage
MACo supported a bill that would require websites that coordinate accommodations between guests and hosts, like from Airbnb and VRBO, to collect and remit local hotel rental taxes. Senate Bill 93/House Bill 935 relieved the individual host from the responsibility, placing that onus on the intermediary company. The legislation did not advance out of either committee. Bill Information | MACo Coverage
MACo provided amendments to an admissions and amusement tax exemption bill for agritourism, to make the exemption a local option. Senate Bill 716 did not advance out of committee, on the basis that counties already have authority under state regulation to enact exemptions to this tax. Bill Information | MACo Coverage
MACo also supported a bill which would create a new exemption from the transfer and recordation tax for the transfer of property from a sole proprietorship to a limited liability company (LLC) if the sole member of the LLC is identical to the converting sole proprietor. Over the interim, MACo successfully addressed a loophole to prevent unfair tax avoidance. The General Assembly passed Senate Bill 111/House Bill 363 and it awaits the Governor’s signature. Bill Information | MACo Coverage