March 20, 2013
All those who have been scared by the gloomy talk that preceded Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's 10-year plan for Baltimore's finances should find some comfort in her first concrete steps to implement it through her new budget proposal. It contains a number of controversial elements that may be difficult to achieve through legislation or bargaining with the unions. But if all goes according to plan, the biggest change most residents will see will be a reduction in property taxes. Homeowners' rates would go down by 8 cents per $100 in assessed value next year, to $2.168, and everyone else would see a 2-cent cut. For most people, that will more than offset a new, state-mandated storm water management fee that goes into effect July 1. The other tax increases included in the budget will be little felt by residents and don't amount to much anyway: new taxes on billboards ($1 million a year)
January 30, 2013
Tax season officially kicks off Wednesday, later than usual because lawmakers only this month passed legislation to address expired tax cuts. The IRS needed time to update its forms and systems. Not a problem for procrastinators, but a problem for others used to the tax season starting in mid-January. "It is very painful and very inconvenient" for early filers counting on refunds to pay off holiday credit card bills or other debt, said Mark Steber, chief tax officer for Jackson Hewitt Tax Service.
January 8, 2013
With all the moaning coming from the Tea Party Express and their loyalists in the House Republican Caucus, you would think conservatives had lost everything, including their virtue, in the fiscal cliff parlay with President Barack Obama because taxes are going up on the wealthy. However, if they could just get past their prudish sensibility about backroom compromises, they might recognize that their side actually did rather well in the dead-of-night deal making. Yes, Democrats can claim some good results in the last-minute bargain that was struck to avoid the immediate across-the-board tax hikes and budget cuts that were set to begin on January 1. The Bush era tax cuts for people making more than $400,000 a year were eliminated, and capital gains taxes and estate taxes were raised, providing new revenue sources that Democrats insist are necessary.
January 7, 2013
By all accounts, President Barack Obama won the fiscal cliff showdown. Why anyone would take much pride in this kind of "win" is beyond me. It's a bit like being the least filthy toddler in the mud pit. One of the main reasons Mr. Obama won, according not only to Mr. Obama but an at times cheering press, is that he had a mandate. He ran on the need for the wealthy to "pay their fair share. " To his credit, Mr. Obama never said raising taxes on the "rich" will solve all of our problems.
December 26, 2012
A drive through Baltimore reveals signs of economic optimism as well as severe poverty. If the economy is to fully recover from the worst recession in decades, Democrats and Republicans must accept that sacrifices are necessary from both sides ("GOP cancels vote on Plan B," Dec. 21). Unfortunately, the GOP is inexplicably proposing that the poorest and neediest Americans sustain severe cuts to vital services, while the highest income earners are allowed to benefit from continued Bush-era tax cuts.
December 19, 2012
President Barack Obama expects the Republicans to give into his tax-hike demands ("Progress elusive in fiscal talks," Dec. 14). "I'm pretty confident that Republicans would not hold middle-class taxes hostage in trying to protect tax cuts for high-income individuals," he told Barbara Walters in a recent interview. However, now it seems Mr. Obama's busy party schedule can't accommodate the fiscal cliff talks. Since returning from a trip to Southeast Asia on Nov. 12, Mr. Obama has managed to play three rounds of golf but has met only once face to face with House Speaker John A. Boehner, the man with whom he is trying to strike a deal on taxes and spending to prevent another recession.