“Rain Tax” to Soak Maryland Taxpayers

By:  Michael Tennant
“Rain Tax” to Soak Maryland Taxpayers

Under a new state "rain tax," Maryland residents will be assessed a fee based on how much of their property is impervious to precipitation.

“Rain, rain, go away.” That’s what Marylanders are saying now that their state government has decided to tax them on the amount of rain that falls on developed portions of their property.

Last week the Maryland legislature passed and Gov. Martin O’Malley signed a law that taxes property owners on the basis of “the square footage of impervious surfaces on a property,” according to MarylandReporter.com. “The rationale is that roofs, driveways and parking lots create more potential for drainage problems and water contamination. Local jurisdictions are supposed to determine how much to charge per square foot, but in general, the size of the fee would depend on the size of the buildings and paved surfaces on a property.”

How will the government determine a property owner’s tax liability? “The amount of impervious surface a property owner has will be calculated using satellite and geographical information system technology,” reports Watchdog Wire.

Government property is exempt from the tax, but religious and nonprofit organizations are subject to it. A bill to exempt nonprofits — including environmental organizations — was proposed but failed.

MarylandReporter.com writes that Senate Republican Leader E.J. Pipkin noted the “irony of ironies”: Environmental groups tried to obtain an exemption from the tax that they themselves were pushing as a means of improving the environment. “He said that the groups’ stance was particularly galling, since much of the money raised through stormwater fees would benefit them by subsidizing conservation projects.”

Perhaps the major reason that religious and nonprofit groups were not exempted from the tax is that they tend to own large buildings with expansive parking lots, precisely the types of impervious surfaces that will rake in big bucks for the government. Residential owners are expected to pay about $100 a year to start — a significant but not astronomical amount. Nonresidential owners, by contrast, are likely to be shelling out thousands of simoleons annually.

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