Downtown business leaders were urged today to support proposals to revamp Maryland's tax laws by Robert Linowes, chairman of the Maryland Commission on State Taxes and Tax Structure.
Linowes heads the commission, which last month issued a report that called for major increases in state taxes, a fairer tax structure and increased revenues for education and transportation.
Linowes spoke this morning at the Sheraton Inner Harbor Hotel before the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, a non-profit corporation created to promote the downtown area.
The report proposes increasing the income tax rate, forcing local governments to reduce property tax rates, instituting a 2 percent annual tax on cars and boats, and raising the sales tax rate to 5.5 percent from the current 5 percent. The report also recommends increasing corporate taxes from 7 percent to 7.5 percent, and taxing two dozen services, ranging from dry cleaning to lawn care.
Linowes told the businessmen the changes "are fair, they are equitable, they are just and they are right."
Two-thirds of Maryland taxpayers would actually see a tax decrease, he said. Of the new revenue generated by the taxes, 41 percent would go to education, 23 percent for local transportation, 13 percent for state transportation and 12 percent to assist the state's 12 poorest districts.
Linowes told the business leaders that the proposals should be adopted intact by the General Assembly, despite rumblings from legislators that they might wait a year before implementing any of the proposals. The state already faces the dilemma of how to cut services or raise revenues to meet a budget deficit, but Linowes said the state should not wait to adopt the reform.