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Trickle-Down Taxation: Maryland Residents Facing 'Rain Tax'

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In 1965, disgusted by what he viewed as confiscatory taxation by the British authorities -- a supertax instituted by the Labor government was taking 95 percent of top earners' income -- George Harrison wrote a bitter song from the perspective of a maniacal tax collector:

​​If you drive a car, I'll tax the street,
If you try to sit, I'll tax your seat.
If you get too cold I'll tax the heat,
If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet.


But even Harrison's "Taxman" never conceived of a levy on the weather, something currently being instituted in Maryland.

Some background: The Chesapeake Bay faces a serious pollution problem. The Environmental Protection Agency decreed in 2010 that Maryland had to stop so much stormwater runoff from draining into the Bay, a project that would cost $14.8 billion. To pay for that, authorities decided to tax "impervious surfaces" -- in the words of The Gazette, "anything that prevents rainwater from seeping into the earth (roofs, driveways, patios, sidewalks, etc.) thereby causing stormwater runoff."

This solution is being called -- with the combined goodwill these two concepts evoke -- a rain tax.

Faced with the EPA's orders, the state has required its 10 largest counties -- Montgomery, Prince George's, Howard, Anne Arundel, Carroll, Harford, Charles, Frederick, Baltimore counties and Baltimore city -- to raise the revenue. Rain taxes are to take effect in these areas by July 1.

Perhaps even more disturbing than the duty itself is the manner in which property owners' obligations will be calculated: According to the Gazette, "satellite imagery and geographic information systems" will be used to measure the area of roofs and driveways.

Homeowners will bear the brunt of the rain tax: of the $14.8 billion to be raised -- $482 million each year until 2025 -- about three-quarters will come from residential property owners. The rate is expected to start at $100 a year for most homeowners, although that could rise. The only rain tax shelter: credits and exemptions for property owners who follow stormwater "best practices."

How the money will be spent is another murky situation; for the full details, head over to The Gazette.


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Rob

They decided to tax the ten largest counties but in reality they should look at the urban counties not rural counties such as Frederick, Washington and others. That is if you even buy the premise of the tax. Lets not consider that a lot, if not most, of the runoff into the bay comes from Pennsylvania with some from Virginia, New Jersey, Delaware and others. This is another money grab by the liberal politicians who have run roughshod over the state. Someone suggested the four western counties should petition to become part of West Virginia since they are better aligned politically. Anne Arrundal, Prince Georges, Montgomery, Baltimore City and Baltimore county elect these liberals and the rest of the state is stuck with them. Western Maryland lost their GOP representative in Congress this year due to some very creative redistricting. We had the millionaire tax in MD a few years ago, result - most of them relocated out of the state. Now we have a thousandaire tax - when these folks relocate to neighboring states who is going to be left to bear the burden. A couple of years and my son will graduate and we will move out of the state. If you think I am using the school system and moving on think again - I pay the state and county taxes and on top of that pay for private education. They can kiss my $20K+ yearly in property, sales, gas and state taxes goodbye the summer after his graduation.

April 12 2013 at 11:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brinksouth

The most ridiculous thing about this rain tax is that we, the citizens allow our so called Representatives to tax us so excessively. Both State and Federal governments are abusive in creating new ways to tax us and increasing existing taxes. Both political parties are guilty of this. Voters who are strongly aligned with a political party will defend everything their Party does.
Thus, we then empower elected officials to control us with excessive taxes, regulations fees and fines. Unless and until, voters demand better treatment from the elected representatives, they will continue to abuse us with increased taxes. Most people are resigned to accept everything they throw at us, but we must throw the tax increasing politicians out of office until they get the message that we will no longer accept abusive taxes. It's the difference between being slaves or being free.

April 12 2013 at 4:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Brinksouth's comment
jelun

I suggest a gravel drive and rain collection.

April 12 2013 at 12:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
crestline53

Here in Taxachusetts we have been paying the rain tax for a few years now.

April 12 2013 at 4:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to crestline53's comment
jelun

Lying sack.

April 12 2013 at 12:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tony

Some things are just plain wrong, & this be 1 of them.

April 12 2013 at 4:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Chris

Did you like those gun safety laws they passed? You were forewarned. The are going to tax you in ways that King George never could have dreamed of. And it doesn't matter about the guns. They are not going to sell you any ammo.

April 12 2013 at 4:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
WildMtHoney888

Next up a sunshine tax because the UV rays from the sun cause melanoma. & the taxes collected can offset the costs of affordable healthcare.

April 12 2013 at 3:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jmg62

""anything that prevents rainwater from seeping into the earth (roofs, driveways, patios, sidewalks, etc.) thereby causing stormwater runoff.""

Well, this is a bit of taxation without rep-adamngoodreason-resentation! Did anyone in the State of Maryland have the opportunity to have POROUS driveways or patios installed? I mean? Who want's a roof that rain doesn't run off of? The Governor? Oh, so no "grandfathering" - no Maryland just let everyone BUY and INSTALL that surface - at their own costs - that allows everything to run off it which was going to be taxed? So that's how it is?!

And I'm surprised they're calling it a "TAX" - that's a new FOUR LETTER WORD IN MOST STATES! The PC term is "Alternate Stream of Revenue". So? What do the Citizen's of Maryland GET for this TAX? A Cleaner Bay? Does EVERY CITIZEN OF THIS PORTION OF MARYLAND GET A BENEFIT from this TAX? Fisherman from OTHER STATES? Are the WATER/SEWAGE PROVIDERS IN THIS AREA OF MARYLAND GETTING A BENEFIT? If so - what kind/type of benefit? Will the WATER/SEWAGE PROVIDERS be able to raise/lower rates during this period? Does their Public Utility Commission have any say in this? Or did they already speak on behalf of their Lobbyists? Maryland should at least have a TAX INCENTIVE going forward for anyone choosing to have a roof that allows rain to come into their house and not "run-off" their property. Perhaps something akin to a screen or wooden lattice work? Seems a little incongruent with CITIZEN'S rights that they'd be FORCED to now purchase something inconducive to the well being of their House -Home -Driveway and Lawn merely to avoid this TAXATION that's "SPRUNG" upon them NOW in the Spring when "April Showers Make May Flowers". Perhaps it best to call this a "Precipitation Tax" since even if one shovels off the snow on their roof or driveway they need pay anyhow?

Thank Goodness I live in Philly! Yeah - so I can pay and EXTRA $300.00 a year because I own a duplex and me and the old lady upstairs have one bag of trash a week while the house next door puts out 5 bags and THEIR PROPERTY TAXES COVER TRASH COLLECTION AND DON'T PAY ANY EXTRA! That's OK - I hear houses painted blue will have to re-paint to off-white at their own cost or be fined every month. ~~ "NEW REVENUE STREAM".

April 12 2013 at 2:19 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
blivethopper

You deserve who you keep voting into office.

April 12 2013 at 2:16 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
mark and sheri

Ah yes, Liberal/Progressive/Socialist "fair share/redistribute wealth" Gov't officials. Keep looking for the Money Tree rather than control spending. None of them will be happy until everyone's paycheck is deposited directly into the Gov't coffers, to be distributed by Those Who Know What Is Right!

April 12 2013 at 12:54 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
fred

If western marylanders were the childern of the state of Maryland, governor O'Mally and the majority of our politicians would be in jail for neglect.

April 12 2013 at 12:40 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply