September 8, 2013

Maine lawmakers to review tax breaks, exemptions

The Associated Press

AUGUSTA — Maine lawmakers, economists and tax experts will meet this month in an attempt to find savings in tax breaks to avoid further reductions to municipal revenue sharing.

A task force, which meets for the first time Sept. 16, was created as part of the state budget and has been tasked with finding $40 million in savings within the state's tax breaks, exemptions and credits. It's expected to meet five times before reporting back to the Legislature in December.

"All of our efforts, from our tax code to our policy making, need to be focused on strengthening our economy and growing jobs," Democratic Senate President Justin Alfond of Portland said in a statement. "It makes good sense that the committee take this opportunity to look at what's working and what's not and align our tax incentives to our economy."

Democratic leaders said that the group's failure to find $40 million in savings will result in further cuts to municipal revenue sharing. The $6.3 billion state budget approved in June reduced revenue sharing to Maine's cities and towns by $75 million, which local officials say will lead to property tax hikes.

"It is unfair that special interests receive special tax breaks while working families are hit with rising property taxes," said Democratic Rep. Adam Goode of Bangor, who's House chair of the Taxation Committee.

The group is also expected to come up with a process to regularly review the effectiveness of tax expenditures.

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