A few years ago, the EPA ordered Maryland to raise money in order to fund a $14.8 billion project to cut down on stormwater runoff flowing into the Chesapeake Bay. Their stated goal was to bring nitrogen levels in the bay down by 22% and phosphorous levels down by 15%.
So, Maryland politicians came up with a scheme to finance the EPA-mandated project. Since governments are typically incapable of cutting unnecessary and wasteful programs that would free up revenue to be spent on these kinds of mandates, their only solution is to raise revenue.
They recently passed a bill that would impose a tax on 9 Maryland counties and Baltimore city that would raise about $482 million a year to meet the EPA’s demands by 2025. A rain tax:
“Approved by the Senate and House of Delegates minutes before the end of the legislative session, the bill requires nine counties and Baltimore City to establish a watershed protection and restoration program. Local governments would charge property owners a fee based on the amount of pavement on their property. It would be at the jurisdiction of the local governments to determine the size of those fees. Counties and municipalities would take various steps, such as planting trees, to reduce watershed pollution caused by stormwater runoff.”
They’ll be using satellite surveillance to determine how much impervious surface area each property owner has. (Maybe they’ll use surveillance drones). Most households will be paying about $100 a year as their fair share in the “impervious surfaces” tax. And you can imagine how much businesses, churches and schools have to pay since they typically have large parking lots and roof surface areas. Some estimate that those entities would potentially have to pay 10’s of thousands of dollars a year, even $100,000. And since they have to pay so much, those taxes are just going to be transferred on to their consumers or those that use the premises:
“[H]omeowners are going to pay the rain tax three times. Once, on their homes. A second time, because commercial leases force tenants to pay the landlord’s property taxes, which the tenants will then pass on to their customers. And a third time as church members or supporters of nonprofit hospitals, private schools and charities.”
Montgomery County is already imposing the tax, and last year, it generated $17 million in rain tax revenues. So what are they actually spending that money on? Training people on solutions to combat stormwater runoff:
“[The county] holds workshops and training events to help residents understand how various projects work. Projects such as rain gardens, conservation landscaping, rain barrels and cisterns, drywells and tree planting are then offered to be installed on properties that qualify, based on the County’s assessment.”
And to top it all off, government-owned property is exempt.