June Smith

Today’s the day for more taxes, fees, and fee increases for many residents of the “Free State” and more money for the State’s coffers. And all for the good of Maryland, so we are told.

Here are a few of the tax and fee hits commencing on the first day of the new fiscal year—in random order, in keeping with all things done by government:

#1 Residents making more than $100,000 will pay more income taxes. Under the new law, “single taxpayers with an adjusted gross income above $100,000 and couples making more than $159,000” will pay another quarter of a percentage point, increasing the tax amount to one  half of a percentage point, retroactive to January.

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#2 Tax on “little cigars” increased today from 15 percent (wholesale) to 70 percent; tax on smokeless tobacco products rose from 15 percent to 30 percent, leading to the saving of “thousands of young people from addiction to these deadly products” said Vincent DeMarco, president of Maryland’s Health Initiative.

Perhaps many remember Mr. DeMarco from his days when he was paid to oppose guns and was an occasional guest on the Ron Smith Show. Those who knew Ron’s stance on gun control will recall who was left standing after those debates.

But I digress…

#3 Many residents of the “Free State” will pay higher fees to jiggle the handle on the toilet. The flush tax on sewer bills doubled from $2.50 to $5.00, $30 to $60 annually. State leaders claim the increase will be used to upgrade waste water treatment facilities to reduce the pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. Watershed area residents are exempt from this one.

A spokesperson for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation said it was a watershed moment for the bay, adding that the tax increase will “move us significantly toward finishing the job of finally making the bay fishable and swimmable.”  So much for “the Land of Pleasant Living”.

#4 The State now has guidelines limiting where new septic systems can be installed. Local governments have until December to adopt the guidelines. It is for the good of those Marylanders previously living in fear of growing residential subdivisions.

#5 Another new law requires local governments to set fees to fight storm-water pollution in Baltimore and nine of the State’s largest counties. Property owners will pay a fee to reduce pollution caused by rainwater runoff. Local governments will have a year to figure out how much the new fee will be and how they will collect it. I’d suggest they go with a quarter of a percentage point.

#6 The cost of death certificates doubled from $12 to $24. Don’t know whether that’s a tax, a fee or an exit fee.

Death certificates are required by law, necessary for social security and insurance claims, banking and other financial transactions. Every day, someone has to pay for one. Now they have to pay twice as much.  

The bean counters—or in this case, body counters—in Annapolis projected the annual income from the cost increase for the required certificates will raise $667,000 this year.

Happy New Fiscal Year!

June Smith is the widow WBAL talk show host and Sun columnist, Ron Smith, who posthumously received an Emmy® for his lifetime achievement in television and radio at WBAL in Baltimore, MD. Smith was a media titan in the central Maryland area and beyond for almost forty years. Mrs. Smith’s tribute website honoring his legacy is www.FriendsofRonSmith.com.  She is working diligently to raise one million dollars for the Ron Smith Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund at Johns Hopkins and is an advocate for H.R. 733, the Pancreatic Cancer Research Education Act. Her email is june@friendsofronsmith.com.

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