July 18, 2018
Politics & Opinion
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Are You Paying Too Much In Taxes?

Meagan Simonaire
Meagan Simonaire's picture
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August 22, 2017

When discussing the need for local government reforms, the No. 1 issue I hear over and over again is reforming our tax laws, especially our property tax laws.

To that end, this past session I successfully passed legislation providing our county with more tools to give greater property tax breaks to our seniors.

While that is helpful, I also realized that we needed a comprehensive review and upgrade of our tax laws. Year after year, we see individual proposals to tweak our tax laws, but we really need a thorough analysis of our existing tax laws.

This is not a simple undertaking, but it is a worthwhile effort that would benefit both the people we serve and the government that provides needed services. Far too often, government grows bigger, funded by the people, with little oversight or evaluation of the purposes for which the money is collected.

Therefore, this summer, I have been leading a tax reform effort with our county and state, especially where state tax laws directly affect Anne Arundel County tax ordinances.

Tax Incentive Reforms

There are two main aspects of taxes: collection and incentives. My first initiative is specifically focused on tax incentives. The term “tax incentive” being used here is meant to include any method used to return taxes paid or owed from any person or entity.

Taxes are always a huge topic in our county, and I want to help reduce that burden through expanded, efficient and effective tax incentives.

Due to the changing world of individuals, businesses and environmental advancements, some of our tax incentives are outdated, in need of modification or repeal, or require the enactment of new tax incentives.

My plan includes research, planning, meeting with state and county officials, evaluation and developing legislation for the upcoming session.

Earlier this summer, I met with County Executive Steve Schuh and his staff to present my ideas and plans, and to solicit his help on the county tax side. It was well received.

Clear Policy Statement

Regarding my plan, first, a clear policy statement and criteria should be developed to evaluate all existing and future requests for tax incentives at the county and state level. While there is a general sense of a policy in each changing administration, there is no formal policy to follow; having this will allow for a clear evaluation to see if the goals and criteria are being met.

Identification And Evaluation

Secondly, it is imperative to identify and evaluate all existing state and county tax incentives. The county and state should be working hand in hand so that they do not have overlapping, outdated, duplicative or competing tax incentives. This will aide in determining which incentives need to be repealed, modified or created in the upcoming session.

Propose Legislation

Thirdly, legislation will be drafted to implement any proposed changes. I will lead the effort in the House of Delegates, and the process will provide public hearings to listen to the people’s thoughts on any proposals.

Centrally Located

Once the tax incentives are identified, one of my first major improvements is to have a centrally located area that provides an easy-to-use and consolidated packet of all tax incentives for the public to access both online and for pickup. Too often, people do not know which tax incentives exist.

There are many important issues, but it is key that people know that their representatives understand the extra burden that excessive taxation places on them. I believe we are being overtaxed, and I will do everything I can to help reduce the tax burden and make the system more efficient so it doesn’t require such high taxation.

The first step is tax reform.

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