Saturday, January 2, 2016

My Proposals on Tax Relief

                The 2016 Legislative Session starts on Wednesday January 13th.  I am busy drafting legislation to introduce in the session.  In this and following newsletters I will be discussing some of my proposals.
Taxes will be a big issue in the upcoming legislative session.  I expect Governor Hogan to come up with proposals that help businesses, including lowering the corporate income tax rate.  While I think it is important to address the problems of small businesses, government is continuing to favor large corporations with big tax breaks at the expense of working families. I have drafted  a package of tax proposals that would bring some relief to our working families and people on fixed income.
1)      Improving the Homeowner Tax Credit Program.  (This is not the same as the Homestead Property  Tax Credit, which limits  the increase in property taxes each year.)  This program gives modest tax relief to those families with a gross family income of under $60,000.  The tax program is very modest, and very few people apply.  My proposal would increase the family limit to $80,000 and increase the credit amount per household by $400-500 per year.  The bill would also increase the eligibility limit on family savings from $200,000 to $400,000.

2)      Improving the Renters Tax Credit Program.  This program is hardly used because so few people know about it, and not many people are eligible.  My bill would increase the eligibility from $40,000 to $60,000 per household and increase the credit by $300 per household.

3)      Marketing existing tax credit programs.  I found out that only 15% of the people eligible use the existing homeowner and renter tax relief programs.  This bill would require the Comptroller’s office to establish a marketing campaign to promote the use of the property tax relief program.
4)      Freezing the Estate Tax Break.     Two years ago the legislature decided to increase the portion of an estate that is free of tax from $1 million to $5 million over four years.  My bill would freeze the untaxed level at  $2 million - amounts over that level would be subject to the estate tax.  By not allowing this amount to increase we would save over $100 million during the next four years, and we could easily afford my tax relief bills without having to cut needed programs.

I hope my proposals are considered by the legislature this year.  We have a lot of people facing economic distress, and the legislature would better serve the state by giving tax relief to working  families, rather than to large corporations, whose only need is to increase their profit line.

Some New Laws That Go into Effect This Month
1)      A new voter-registration law allows individuals to register to vote at early-voting centers during early-voting periods. In 2016, those periods run April 14-21 for the April 26 primary election, and Oct. 27-Nov. 3 for the Nov. 8 general election.
2)      Workers’ compensation insurers now have to give clients 45 days’ notice that they are canceling or refusing to renew a policy.
3)      Prince George’s County laws:
a)      It is now illegal to smoke electronic cigarettes in public buildings.
b)      Higher fines for littering:  Anyone caught throwing garbage on county land can be slapped with a $1,000 fine — double the previous penalty.
c)       An anti-littering law targets property owners who fail to remove accumulating refuse from their yards, which could saddle them with a hefty tax lien.
d)      Another law increases the penalty for anyone caught renting property without a license to $1,000 per month.