A revenue-neutral proposal to end Maryland’s subsidy of rich jurisdictions by poor jurisdictions through the property tax system
by Bill Marker, March 2019
Click here for a pdf of the proposal
The State of Maryland’s Real Property Tax System allows each county and Baltimore City to set its own tax rate. Thus a Marylander living in Talbot County pays only $1,212 in taxes on a $200,000 home, while a Marylander living in Baltimore City pays $4,496 on a $200,000 home.
Put another way, a resident of Talbot County pays the same taxes on a $742,000 house as a Baltimore City resident pays on a $200,000 house. This reverse Robin Hood scheme unreasonably transfers resources from poor folks to rich folks.
It can be argued that a tax system should tax all people equally or that wealth should be transferred from rich to poor. It cannot, however, be reasonably argued that a tax system should cause the poor to subsidize the rich, and yet that is exactly what the current Maryland tax system does.
Over 60% of all Marylanders are overburdened by this inequitable system, and perhaps many of the subsidized among the remaining 40% will recognize the injustice of the current system.
Our Property Tax System should be revised so that every Marylander pays the same rate: One State, One Rate!
All the receipts should go to a single, state-wide fund.
Initially, the tax revenue allocation could be disbursed to the counties (and Baltimore City) based on each jurisdiction’s percentage of total State population. Over time, justice/good public policy may call for greater distribution to jurisdictions with greater needs. Beneficiaries of the One State, One Rate! proposal would include the residents of Allegany, Baltimore, Caroline, Cecil, Charles, Dorchester, Frederick, Harford, Prince George’s, Saint Mary’s, Somerset, Washington, and Wicomico counties and Baltimore City.
The numbers in the Real Property Assessable Revenue Yields FY 2019, 7/1/19 Population, and Estimated Total Assessable Base FY 2019 columns (1st, 2nd and 4th columns) are from Budgets, Tax Rates, and Selected Statistics Fiscal Year 2019 by the Maryland Association of Counties. Counties are listed in order from the most burdened by the current system to the most subsidized. The 1.0067% is the result of dividing the total Real Property Assessable Revenue Yield of $7,461,884,871 by the Estimated Total Assessable Base of $741,118,425,910. This is the One Rate that, if applied statewide, would yield the same total revenue now produced unfairly by the 24 different county rates.
Not all questions concerning this proposal are addressed herein, including:
- Will the proposal require only legislative action, or is it a constitutional matter?
- How do municipal property taxes and special tax districts change the numbers?
- How does any Statewide property tax affect this proposal?
- How would current formula aid programs, such as for education, libraries and health, be affected by this proposal?
- Should One State One Rate! extend to personal property tax rates?
- Should One State One Rate! also apply to the piggyback portion of income taxes?
BILL MARKER retired in 2017 as a Charter Specialist with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation. He previously served as a Public Defender dealing with Child In Need of Assistance matters. Bill chairs the Boulevards Committee formed by Barre Circle, Pigtown and Ridgely’s Delight and represents Barre Circle on the Board of Directors of the Southwest Partnership, Inc. His community leadership has included serving as President of Citizens of Pigtown, Vice President of Congregation Beit Tikvah, Secretary of the Maryland Professional Employees Council, AFT-MD, AFL-CIO, and as a member of the Democratic Central Committee and the Economic Development Committee of the Local Development Council (the Casino committee). Bill has also chaired the Nominations Committee for the Southern District Police Community Relations Council and served on the boards of both the Washington Village/Pigtown Neighborhood Planning Council and the Friends of the Enoch Pratt Free Library. Bill graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Maryland Law School. He has run for public office several times.
Comments on the general concept of this proposal and its details may be sent to Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org.