Gov. Martin O'Malley's proposed job-creation tax credit may have the support of several business associations, but some small business owners are saying it won't help.
"How in God's name is a tax credit ... going to help me?" Tony Passaro told the House Ways and Means Committee Thursday. "I don't have anything for [a new employee] to do."
The proposed legislation would offer a $3,000 tax credit to businesses that hire unemployed Marylanders. Employees would have to be receiving unemployment benefits or have exhausted their benefits within the past 12 months to qualify.
Employers could claim the credit for each new employee, up to $250,000.
The credit would apply only to employees hired between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2010. The initiative, part of the jobs-creation package heralded in O'Malley's State of the State address this week, is estimated to cost $20 million.
Passaro, the co-owner of three fitness centers, is also an organizer of the Bel Air Tea Party Coalition and promoter of several tax protests. He was one of several witnesses who said the bill was a good start but that broader tax reform to stimulate business is also needed. "My business is failing," Passaro told the committee. "I'm down 50 percent of my revenues."
Added Joan Ryder, owner of a Bel Air real estate firm: "I need more than a tiny tax credit to counter the cost" of hiring another employee.
The House bill and its Senate counterpart have received the support of the Restaurant Association of Maryland, the Greater Baltimore Committee and the Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations.
The Maryland Chamber of Commerce supported the bill but recommended the credit be raised from $3,000 to $5,000 to provide more incentive for employers.