May 18, 2013

Panel keeps ambitious Maine tax proposal alive

The Taxation Committee gives the bill a reprieve by ordering a full cost analysis of the bipartisan measure.

By Steve Mistler
State House Bureau

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Maine Rep. Gary Knight, R-Livermore Falls, is one of the bipartisan 'Gang of 11' trying to push through an ambitious tax overhaul in the Pine Tree State.

The phased implementation would also cut the income tax to 5 percent beginning Jan. 1, 2014, and initiate the tax fairness credit program designed to mitigate the impact of increased consumption taxes on low- and middle-income families. The removal of a host of sales tax exemptions would also begin in 2014.

The full 4 percent income tax cut, the repeal of the estate tax and other expansion of the sales tax base wouldn't go into effect until 2015 after a review by the Legislature.

The implementation concerned several lawmakers, including Thomas, who worried the plan paved the way for tax increases while leaving open the possibility that the cuts wouldn't be enacted.

"We could end up with the bad and not see the good until I'm dead and gone," Thomas said.

Sen. Anne Haskell, D-Portland, co-chairwoman of the committee, was also skeptical. She said she appreciated the enthusiasm of the bill's proponents, but worried the plan was too risky and too late in the session.

"I find myself in the odd position of being a pessimist here," she said.

There were a number of skeptics on the committee, but most lawmakers were persuaded to initiate the Maine Revenue Services analysis.

Those results, the official language of the bill and additional details about targeted sales tax exemptions could be released next week.

Haskell said the committee may hold another public hearing on the proposal.


Steve Mistler can be contacted at 620-7016 or at:


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