The budget proposal President Trump released this week threatens the economic and social well-being of low- and moderate-income Marylanders. The budget slashes important anti-poverty programs that help more than 1 million of our neighbors meet basic living standards. It shrinks important investments in our economy, like protecting the Chesapeake Bay and creating new innovations in medicine by funding research. At the same time, it gives new tax breaks to the wealthy and powerful. The President’s proposed budget would also shift massive costs to Maryland at a time when policymakers here are already struggling to invest in education, transportation, and other services we all rely on. Rather than taking away opportunities from people who are working hard to get back on their feet, we need strong new investments in families and communities. The following are just a few examples of the ways this budget proposal would harm Maryland families and our…
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May 11, 2017 by Natalie Neill in Blog, Budget and Tax
President Trump’s proposed tax reform package includes a harmful provision to repeal the federal estate tax on large inheritances. The repeal would put a revenue stream Maryland relies on to provide essential services at risk, while benefiting only the extremely wealthy. Not only would federal tax cuts to the ultra-wealthy likely come at a cost to federal programs important in the state, federal changes would jeopardize Maryland’s ability to maintain its own estate tax. Our estate tax rules and asset measurements are linked by law to the federal estate tax. Maryland is already in the process of increasing the threshold for estates subject to the tax. Maryland will match the federal exemption amount by 2019, at which point only 2 in every 1,000 estates would be affected. In 2016, despite only applying to the top 3 percent of estates, the inheritance tax provided $207 million in revenue, more than enough…
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May 5, 2017 by Ellen Hutton in Blog
For years, Maryland has recognized the benefits of welcoming immigrants into its colleges and universities, including giving all Maryland residents an opportunity to pay in-state tuition rates, regardless of immigration status. Policies like these are good for the college classroom, as well as our economy as a whole – and they may now be at risk. It is unclear, as of now, whether the Trump administration will choose to end protections for young adults who came to the U.S. as children and have legal status through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. If the administration elects to end the program, thousands of Marylanders could lose their jobs and ability to attend college, many business could lose valued workers, and Maryland could lose nearly $14 million annually in state and local tax revenue. Maryland is home to 24,000 young adults who are eligible for DACA, although only 11,110 are…
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May 2, 2017 by Christopher Meyer in Blog
A package of manufacturing tax breaks favored by Gov. Hogan was one of the highest-profile bills passed by the General Assembly on its final day in session this year. Ultimately, the new law is likely to have little effect on manufacturing employment in Maryland, while making it harder for the state to invest in essential services like schools, hospitals, roads, and transit. The bill went through multiple iterations on its way to passage, so it’s worth taking a look at what made it into the final law, and what it will mean for Maryland’s economy. At the heart of the package are six newly created business tax breaks—three that are available only to new (or new to Maryland) manufacturing businesses located in certain economically distressed counties, plus three with broader eligibility. Qualified businesses can claim the tax breaks for 10 consecutive years. These businesses would also qualify for property tax…
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April 25, 2017 by Ellen Hutton in Blog
There was much to celebrate at the end of this year’s legislative session, including the passage of a number of anti-hunger bills. Nevertheless, without adequate funding behind them, the bills passed do little to end hunger. One in eight households in Maryland struggle to get enough to eat, and policy alone won’t help them. One bill that passed this year, the Maryland Farms and Families Act, aims to give Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients more money to spend at farmers markets by investing state funds into the Maryland Market Money (MMM) program. MMM matches SNAP benefits spent at participating farmers markets up to $5 per day. Giving families additional money to buy fresh produce at a farmers market not only helps them access better nutrition, it also increases revenue for Maryland’s farms and agricultural producers, and puts additional money into the local economy. Unfortunately, the funding mandate that was…
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April 20, 2017 by Christopher Meyer in Blog
Freddie Gray died two years ago yesterday while in police custody. As anger, unrest, and litigation made Baltimore a fixture in national headlines in the aftermath, one positive development seemed likely to come from this tragic event: a renewed commitment in Annapolis to invest in communities like the one where Freddie Gray lived and died. Two years later—and one year after the passage of a $290 million aid package intended to improve Baltimoreans’ access to housing, education, and jobs—more work is needed to secure this commitment. The budget proposal released by Gov. Hogan in January cut more than $30 million from the investments promised last year to Baltimore and precarious communities elsewhere in Maryland. Although the General Assembly subsequently restored much of this funding, it should never have been politicized in this way to begin with. Next year, the governor should commit in advance to fully fund the aid package,…
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April 18, 2017 by Natalie Neill in Blog, Budget and Tax
Last Saturday, I was finishing preparing a client’s tax return at the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site in west Baltimore that I run. As we were completing the signature pages, she asked me if preparers could file your taxes without your signature. I told her that was illegal but that it does happen. Usually the paid preparer incorrectly lists the return as “self-prepared.” Lo and behold, it had happened to her. In 2014, she made the mistake of trusting a friend who referred her to a tax preparer who only required pictures of her W-2 to file. She was surprised how large her refund was considering she only worked part of the year, and when she asked why, the preparer assured her it was correct, because she had children. She never saw, let alone signed, her tax forms. She did not find out the truth until the IRS contacted…
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April 14, 2017 by Christopher Meyer in Blog, Budget and Tax
What kind of state do you want Maryland to be? For most of us, the answer is straightforward. We want to live in safe neighborhoods with reliable roads and amenities like well-maintained parks. We want to send our kids to first-rate schools. We want to have healthy neighbors and access to great hospitals. These building blocks of a strong community are made possible by our tax dollars. As Tax Day rolls around, let’s take a look at the shared investments our taxes support and some options for making our tax system better.   Maryland Tax Basics On average, Marylanders pay 10.4 percent of our income in state and local taxes. Compared to other states, we’re near the middle of the pack with residents in 15 states plus the District of Columbia paying more than we do as a share of personal income. This puts Maryland close to the national average.…
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April 12, 2017 by Kali Schumitz in 2017 session, Blog, Budget and Tax, Economic Opportunity, Education, Health
Maryland’s 2017 General Assembly Session came to a close Monday night. While there were also plenty of good ideas left on the table, lawmakers took some important steps that will benefit Maryland families and our state’s economy. Here are some of the ways we are all better off thanks to the work of our legislators this year.   Taking time off when you or a child is sick. Right now, 750,000 hard-working Marylanders don’t have paid sick days. That means they have to give up income and, in many cases, put their jobs at risk when they are sick or need to stay home to care for a sick child. Legislation passed this year would guarantee most Marylanders at least five paid sick days per year, earned based on hours worked. Part-time workers and those who work for very small companies will be guaranteed unpaid sick days. Governor Hogan has…
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April 3, 2017 by Natalie Neill in Blog, Education
This year ProPublica released a different sort of NCAA tournament bracket, one based on how well schools serve low-income students. Princeton came out on top, based on federal data covering five categories: percentage of students receiving Pell grants, average annual cost to low-income students, median federal debt at graduation, the rate of Pell students not repaying their loans 3 years after graduation, and the discount off total cost. We gave the same treatment to 27 colleges and universities in Maryland with a few key differences: We include four-year public, private not-for-profit, and private for-profit schools regardless of their basketball teams’ prowess We do not consider the discount off total cost, instead we look at the first four categories and use the rate of non-repayment as a tie breaker[i] We seeded teams according to endowment size rather than NCAA ranking, reasoning those with more money would be better situated to help…
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