Dishonesty In Public Policy

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Trust in government remains at an all-time low and deception continues to prevail. Recent actions in the 2021 legislative session reveal how local politicians use misleading titles to gain public support, with hopes of selling a tax hike as a tax relief. Many will say it's false advertising. I’ll let you be the judge.

Here’s an example fresh out of Annapolis:

Anne Arundel County leadership heavily lobbied the passage of the Local Tax Relief for Working Families Act of 2021 (House Bill 319). A title with a name like this, you would immediately think that it does as it says, and you would think that everyone would support it. The actual result of this bill is that it will raise taxes on so-called unidentified high earners with absolutely no guarantee that it will provide any tax relief to lower-income families. This is misleading constituents.

Anne Arundel County’s local income tax rate, which was raised in 2019, is currently at 2.81 percent. Local officials set the rate, ranging between 2.25 percent and 3.20 percent for the current tax year. Comparatively, Anne Arundel County has one of the lowest income tax rates in Maryland — which should be celebrated, not used as a reason to be raised. That in itself is what makes our county desirable. We should retain this incentive to allow all to afford to live here.

Anne Arundel County leadership was wrong to have written in its testimony: "The current state ban on local income tax progressivity is unfair." As Thomas Sowell once said, "I have never understood why it is greed to want to keep the money you have earned, but not greed to want to take somebody else's money." With a progressive income tax, the more money you make, the more money you pay. Yet, Anne Arundel County leadership feels entitled to more money they did not earn.

Although the bill claims to affect high earners, it doesn't define who those people are. Suppose this bill was truly about providing tax relief for working families. Why did the Democrat majority reject an amendment that would allow an increase to the tax rate for higher-income brackets only if the income tax rate for lower-earners was reduced?

One of the main conflicts governments face is between spending and revenues. County leadership has made it clear that they want to raise revenue, which in this case implies raising your income tax rates based on reported income to the county.

This is not fear-mongering. This is one law of many that have a propaganda title. This is an effective political strategy that impacts public policy. People can accuse anyone who does not support the bill of not providing tax relief to local families. This is how non-support (opposition) can be used as a weapon.

I would like more people to do their research and not rely on the title of a bill. How ironic that the "Local Tax Relief for Working Families Act" does not provide a single tax relief for any taxpayer, regardless of income.

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