Maryland Native Revenue Tax Reform: Particulars & Evaluation

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By smarttaxservice

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On January 22, Maryland Delegate Palakovich Carr launched H.B. 470, a invoice that might considerably alter the native revenue taxA tax is a compulsory fee or cost collected by native, state, and nationwide governments from people or companies to cowl the prices of normal authorities companies, items, and actions.
system within the state. If adopted, the laws would increase the utmost prime native revenue tax price from 3.2 % to three.7 % starting in 2026 and permit counties to impose this price on taxable revenueTaxable revenue is the quantity of revenue topic to tax, after deductions and exemptions. For each people and firms, taxable revenue differs from—and is lower than—gross revenue.
of $250,000 or above for single filers ($300,000 or above for married people submitting joint returns). Till fairly not too long ago, all native revenue taxes in Maryland have been levied at a single price.

What’s within the Invoice?

The preliminary model of the invoice is kind of concise, a mere three pages. Regardless of its brevity, it comprises a number of main provisions that might influence Maryland’s native revenue tax system and the composition of native revenues.

The important thing provision permits counties to lift their revenue tax charges as much as 3.7 % (starting in 2026) whereas retaining the bottom allowable price fixed at 2.25 %. Presently, the best statutory tax price stands at 3.2 %.

It’s price noting that the brand new highest price of three.7 % is relevant solely to taxable revenue exceeding $250,000 for single filers and above $300,000 for married people submitting collectively. This basically signifies that if county governments want to implement a price above 3.2 %, then they need to construction their tax codes progressively, whereby larger charges apply to larger ranges of revenue.

The invoice additionally permits counties to create as much as six revenue tax brackets. Whereas counties have been permitted to impose charges on a bracket foundation since 2022, solely two counties—Anne Arundel County and Frederick County—have began experimenting with graduated-rate tax schedules, with neither exceeding 4 brackets.

Native Revenue Taxes in Maryland: Lengthy-Time period Tendencies and Latest Developments

Maryland is considered one of 16 states the place native revenue taxes are approved and considered one of six states the place they represent a major supply of native tax revenues. Notably, native revenue taxes in Maryland represent about 35 % of native tax collections and greater than 17 % of native income, giving Maryland’s localities the best dependence on revenue taxes within the nation. Consequently, the proposed native revenue tax reform is more likely to have a major influence on the composition of native revenues and intergovernmental fiscal relations inside the state.

Native revenue tax charges in Maryland have mildly elevated since 2006, however the tempo has accelerated in recent times—a pattern noticed in Indiana and a number of other different states. The common native revenue tax price rose from 2.82 % in 2006 to 2.90 % in 2018 and additional to three.03 % in 2024. Importantly, solely three counties imposed the best statutory revenue tax price of three.2 % in 2006, whereas this quantity elevated to 13 counties in 2024.

Over this era, 16 counties raised their prime price, six counties witnessed no modifications, and two counties (Carroll County and Cecil County) decreased their prime price. The most important improve was in Worcester County (from 1.25 to 2.25 %), adopted by Anne Arundel County, Dorchester County, and Caroline County (in every of those three counties, the speed went up from between 2.5 and a couple of.6 % to three.2 %). The prevailing pattern signifies that when the state permits counties to extend their charges as much as a specified cap, most counties ultimately attain this cover, and the authority to impose a progressive price construction makes it simpler for native officers to impose larger charges. Ought to H.B. 470 move, it’s cheap to count on that almost all counties will make their revenue tax code progressive and lift the highest price to three.7 %.

Is the Proposal Sound?

Whereas the proposed invoice seeks to boost native tax autonomy and help the supply of native public companies, it violates a number of key rules of sound tax coverage. Some problematic components of the invoice embrace its complexity, lack of neutrality, and disrespect for the extremely aggressive tax panorama. The proposal would additionally confer the best income profit on the jurisdictions which are already essentially the most well-off.

The proposed invoice makes the tax code extra complicated and fewer impartial. Basically, the one strategy to increase the native tax price above the three.2 % threshold is by adopting a progressive county tax code. Progressivity is achievable on the federal and state ranges (primarily by federal tax progressivity and revenue switch applications at each ranges), however native governments will not be well-positioned to boost progressivity even additional. The first impediment is the benefit with which excessive earners can relocate inside or between states. Tutorial analysis and our evaluation of Indiana counties recommend that prosperous taxpayers usually tend to transfer to low-tax localities. The modified tax code, subsequently, shouldn’t be impartial—it might instantly have an effect on particular person and enterprise selections.

In a extremely aggressive state revenue tax setting, permitting localities to lift the mixed prime state and native tax price to 9.45 % (5.75 state + 3.7 % native) would make Maryland even much less aggressive than all its neighbors besides D.C. This contains Virginia (with the best revenue tax price of 5.75 %), West Virginia (5.12 %), Pennsylvania (6.83 % [3.07 percent state + up to 3.75 percent local in Philadelphia]), and Delaware (7.85 % [6.6 percent state + up to 1.25 percent local]). If Maryland policymakers are considering retaining present taxpayers and attracting new ones (in 2021, the state misplaced greater than 23,000 particular person taxpayers and virtually $2 billion in AGI), then they should prioritize extra structurally sound revenue tax insurance policies.

Lastly, whereas no native tax authority will lead to equal geographic distributions, a lot of the income profit from new tax authority over excessive earners could be centralized in a handful of jurisdictions. The distinction in per capita revenue between the richest county and the poorest county in Maryland is 2.4 instances ($93,395 in Montgomery County vs $38,480 in Somerset County, in keeping with the most up-to-date BEA information). Consequently, the composition of taxpayers varies fairly considerably throughout Maryland counties. Per county-level IRS information for 2020, Montgomery County had 74,580 taxpayers with AGI exceeding $200,000 (virtually 14 % of all tax returns), whereas Somerset County had solely 130 such taxpayers (about 1 % of all returns). After all, the flip aspect of that is {that a} county with many excessive earners that chooses to go all-in on larger taxes may see its taxpayer rely start to erode.

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