MONEY magazine was wrong!!! And it's time for this Time...


April 06, 1994

MONEY magazine was wrong!!! And it's time for this Time Warner publication to admit it.

That's the way Maryland Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein feels. He has presented persuasive evidence that the magazine acted more like a scandal sheet than a responsible, fact-checking financial publication when it lumped Maryland in with other "tax hell" states.

In its January issue, Money listed Maryland as the third worst state in terms of its tax burden. But Mr. Goldstein found that Money had goofed -- badly. In fact, Maryland should have ranked as the 23rd best state when it comes to taxation.

The magazine overstated Maryland taxes on a sample two-income family by $214, the comptroller discovered. And for the second year in a row, Money did not take advantage of Maryland's two-income deduction.

Far more serious was the magazine's error in calculating the local income ("piggyback") tax as a state tax. Money didn't do that with any other state. No wonder Maryland has looked like a "tax hell" to Money's editors all these years.

Thanks to Mr. Goldstein's protests, Money is acknowledging its error in its May issue. That's not much help, given the negative impression Money's error-plagued story made in January.

Mr. Goldstein notes that there's a far more accurate assessment of state tax burdens compiled by the impartial Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, which incorporates all sources of state and local taxes. This is a true measure of what a taxpayer in each state faces. In that ranking, Maryland finished the 11th lowest among the states.

Perhaps Money should abandon its hodge-podge approach and adopt the ACIR standards for comparing "tax hells" and "tax heavens."

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