Mandel, Sauerbrey don't want big corporations, the wealthy to pay their fair share

February 21, 2011

Did Marvin Mandel, our former governor, and Ellen Sauerbrey, a former gubernatorial candidate, sleep through the Wall Street greed grab that brought our nation to the brink of depression? How else to explain their bizarre op-ed ("The anti-business agenda in Annapolis," Feb. 17) that rails against two timely proposals now before Maryland's General Assembly.

The first of these proposals would close the prime loophole that enables giant national corporations to avoid taxes here in Maryland. These corporate giants currently — and routinely — set up out-of-state subsidiaries as tax dodges, then charge expenses to these "separate" companies. In the 2006-2008 three-year period, this tax two-step cost Maryland over $300 million in needed revenue.

The solution? "Combined reporting," a tax reform that 23 states have already enacted. Combined reporting does not, as Governor Mandel and Ms. Sauerbrey charge, impose "another layer of taxation." Combined reporting simply forces all corporations to pay their fair share.

Over 99 percent of our state's businesses already pay the full 8.25 percent Maryland corporate tax. Why should the big national corporations that do business in Maryland — the outfits that can afford to pay the most in taxes — end up paying the least?

The second measure that has Governor Mandel and Ms. Sauerbrey fuming would extend our state's "millionaire's tax." This levy, for the past three years, has subjected income over $1 million to a 6.25 percent tax rate and, in the process, raise revenue that can help prevent budget cuts to education aid and other badly needed state programs.

Our state's millionaires can easily afford to keep paying the millionaire's tax. After all, we need to remember, Congress this past December extended the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy for another two years, a move that will save Americans who make over $1 million an average $139,199 in 2011, according to the independent Brookings/Urban Institute Tax Policy Center.

In other words, keeping the Maryland millionaires tax would still leave Maryland millionaires better off than they would have been had the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy been allowed to expire at the end of 2010!

Paul Pinsky, Annapolis

The writer, a Democrat, is a state senator representing Prince George's County.

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