May 17, 2012
The 15-year real estate tax abatement for the Superblock in West Baltimore raises important policy issues that need to be addressed. Specifically, should the city — and in certain cases, the state — grant economic incentives for real estate developments that 1) create competitive disadvantages for existing property owners and 2) reduce the city's property tax revenues from large-scale commercial developments? From my private-sector perspective, the answer to the question is simple: Granting tax abatements that disadvantage existing taxpaying properties is wrong and will lead to an overall loss of tax revenues for the city.
January 24, 2012
Your Jan. 17 editorial, "Death and farming," misses much of the big picture. If few farm families are taking advantage of a pilot tax program, perhaps it is not because tax relief is not needed. Rather, it may indicate that in many cases the mere deferment (for seven years) of the state's part of a crushing state and federal estate tax burden is of insufficient help to the cash-poor heirs of family farms. A big picture should include that Maryland's estate tax rate of approximately 16 percent is much higher than that of most states (and many states have no inheritance tax)
January 21, 2012
Your editorial "Death and farming" (Jan. 17) claims that there are no reliable numbers about farms subjected to estate taxes. Here's one: 22,000. According to a 2010 American Family Business Foundation study by economist Adam Davies, that is the number of family farms that are currently susceptible to the nightmare of getting taxed upon a death in the family. To add to this unfortunate dilemma, Maryland is one of just 20 states that discourage successful family businesses and farms by piling their own estate tax on top of an already burdensome federal estate tax. Maryland's estate tax forces family farmers to pump working capital that could be used to pay employees, upgrade machinery and buy new equipment into life insurance and estate plans to protect their property from confiscation.
January 20, 2012
As a general rule, I am opposed to tax breaks that favor specific groups of taxpayers (e.g. those with mortgages, those who can afford to make generous charitable contributions or - my all time favorite - commuting federal government workers). However, in the case of estate tax breaks for farmers, I make an exception. Ideally, Maryland would eliminate or significantly reduce its onerous estate tax to stem the exodus of wealthy retirees to Florida and other states with no or low estate taxes.
January 17, 2012
Last year, Gov. Martin O'Malley testified in favor of legislation that would allow small farms to be excluded from Maryland's estate tax. The bill failed, but it's almost certain to get serious consideration this year since Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller recently endorsed the proposal, too. The argument in favor of such an exemption is compelling. Farm estates typically feature high-value land with far less in cash and other liquid investments. Heirs may be forced to sell the land to meet the tax obligation, thus accelerating loss of crop land as more is converted into tract homes, shopping centers and other forms of sprawl development.
January 5, 2012
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said one of his aims during the legislative session that starts this week is to trim Maryland's estate tax where it applies to the inheritance of family farms. Miller, a Calvert County Democrat, said that too often the heirs to family farms are forced to sell property for development because they can't afford the estate taxes. He said he'd like to get rid of the tax entirely when a parcel stays in farming and in the family but recapture the revenue if the inherited property if ever sold off for development.