Governor Hogan pledges to protect Marylanders from tax bill

Gov. Larry Hogan said Wednesday he will propose legislation next month to protect Maryland taxpayers who stand to have their taxes go up because of the reshaping of the nation's tax system approved by Congress.

The governor, speaking in Annapolis hours before the bill received final passage about 30 miles away in the nation's capital, said the full impact of the measure backed by President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress isn't fully known yet. But it's clear some people in Maryland will see their taxes go up while others see theirs go down.

Hogan, a Republican, noted that due to the loss of several longstanding federal tax deductions and exemptions, Maryland state revenue will likely increase by "hundreds of millions of dollars." The legislation he will propose next month at the start of the 90-day session of the Democrat-led General Assembly will seek changes in state law to enable residents to keep that money.

"Our goal will be to leave all of that money in the pockets of hardworking Marylanders, and I'm confident that our partners in the General Assembly who have expressed concern over the impact of the federal bill that they will support us unanimously in this legislation to protect Maryland taxpayers who could be negatively affected," Hogan said. "Protecting taxpayers should be a bipartisan issue, so that's my holiday gift to the people of Maryland."

The Maryland comptroller's office has been studying the federal tax overhaul and is conducting a detailed analysis on how it will affect the state. Comptroller Peter Franchot said his office expects to have a full report within a month.

Republicans in Congress contend the bill will spur economic growth as corporations increase wages and hire more workers, because they will have more money due to the tax code changes.

Democrats in Maryland and in the nation's capital have strongly criticized the legislation in Washington, calling it a giveaway to corporations and the wealthy, with no likelihood that business owners will use their gains to hire more workers or raise wages. Republicans in high-tax states such as New York, New Jersey and California also have expressed opposition.

The tax overhaul would impose a $10,000 limit on the combined sum of property and state and local income taxes that a household could deduct. The $10,000 cap would help pay for corporate and personal tax cuts totaling $1.5 million over the next decade. Conservatives say unlimited state and local deductions amount to a subsidy for the wealthy in high-tax states. But many middle class families in those states face disproportionately high housing costs and depend on deducting state and local taxes.

The Republican-controlled Senate narrowly passed the bill on a party line 51-48 vote after midnight. The House gave the bill final passage Wednesday afternoon.