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Rain tax, Rain tax, go away …

Rain tax, Rain tax, go away …

Not in Maryland where it’s just starting

Former senate candidate, Dan Bongino, discussed the “rain tax” on Fox and Friends.

One of our blessings in Maryland is that the legislature is only in session for three months. It limits the amount of damage our legislators can do. One of the late efforts of our representatives (more precisely, the representatives of an ever expanding government) managed, is what is being called derisively a “rain tax.”

A blog at Philly.com explains:

Yet we haven’t quite seen the likes of what’s going on in Maryland, where a so-called “rain tax” has set off a storms of protests. For example, see this essay by developer and commentator Blair Lee.

It is a fee charged to property owners based on the amount of impervious cover – driveways, concrete patios, and the like — on a given real estate parcel.

Since snow, rain, and their variants can’t penetrate hard surfaces, precipitation runs off and flushes pollutants, such as motor oil and pesticides, into waterways. So, theoretically, property owners who interfere with soil percolation should share the costs of cleanups.

According to the post nearby states, Pennsylvania and New Jersey are not considering such a tax.

But the Baltimore Sun, part of the high tax, big government elite not part of an independent “fourth estate,” derides the term “rain tax.”

To call this a “rain tax” is to try to make it sound like some absurd leftist plot to tax a natural process; to suggest, as one official did, that it’s a “tax on civilization” is to imply that the damage done by stormwater runoff either doesn’t exist or isn’t especially serious. That’s truly ridiculous. This isn’t merely about protecting the bay (although that alone would justify the program) but also about protecting the health of freshwater drinking supplies and preventing local flooding, two issues that should strike most Marylanders pretty close to home.

We could ask each individual to create a stormwater collection system on his or her property, but that would be absurd and impossibly burdensome. Like most matters of public works, this is one area where government must help get the job done. And when we expect our government to take on a new task, we have to provide the means to pay for it.

Some Maryland jurisdictions have already implemented this tax, which would be outrageous even if it were dedicated to its stated purpose. However, columnist, Blair Lee shows that it hasn’t been dedicated:

If I asked you to guess which Maryland county is already levying a rain tax on its citizens, you’d correctly answer “Montgomery,” the “more taxes, please” jurisdiction that collected a $17 million rain tax last year. So, since Montgomery County already has a rain tax in place (but only on residences) let’s take a peek at the future. Here’s how Montgomery County is spending some of its rain tax:

“(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.”

So, I’m supposed to pay a rain tax so the county can train me how to plant a tree, which they’ll give me if, in its view, I qualify? Have we all gone mad?

This is a tax that will serve to create a new bureaucracy, which may but probably won’t address the problem it was created to fight. If fighting runoff pollution is an essential government service, why not cut less essential services and address the runoff problem with the resources saved? Shouldn’t governing be about setting priorities and making choices, not simply expanding government to address every perceived crisis?

In Virginia, the same designation by the EPA of rainwater as pollutant was challenged by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. A federal judge ruled against the EPA.

A federal judge ruled Jan. 3 that the EPA illegally overreached its authority in attempting to regulate water as a pollutant by imposing rules on the flow of storm water into Fairfax County’s Accotink Creek. Judge Liam O’Grady said the agency could regulate pollutants within water, like sediment, but not the water itself.

That’s what can happen when a state determines that its role is to protect its citizens’ interests, rather than feed its own growth.

It’s a song? Who knew? The Tax Prof did.

But a rain tax is only inevitable in a big government, high tax, state like Maryland.

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Comments

“…property owners who interfere with soil percolation should share the costs of cleanups…”

What a load… there are already numerous taxes and fees that are intended to pay for this sort of thing. I’m looking at my utility bill now… $9 a month for a “drainage fee”

“That’s what can happen when a state determines that its role is to protect its citizens’ interests, rather than feed its own growth.”

Quite so. But Maryland made the opposite determination decades ago.

I would like to have sympathy for the decent and hard-working people still there, but then they haven’t closed the borders – yet.

If the ultimate goal is to reduce pesticide and fertilizer runoff, why not tax fertilizers and pesticides to fund whatever it is they plan to do with the money?

    turfmann in reply to bawatkins. | April 28, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    Thanks.

    Appreciate the though of taxing and regulating my business even further without one shred of evidence that what I do for a living has any negative effect upon the environment whatsoever.

    You’re no better than the progressive horde that you decry.

    Let that leach into your cerebral matter for a bit.

JackRussellTerrierist | April 28, 2013 at 4:21 pm

Besides the outright idiocy and transparency of this legislative “effort”, there is an assumption that every homeowner uses pesticides and parks their vehicle, if they have one, in their driveway.

We see this over and over again – government growing itself through the creation of little fiefdoms within its perceived and assumed purview, then staffing them with authority-happy, fingernail-filing, gum-snapping morons.

This is just more conjured coercion and “enforcement” against the people, founded on an irrational demand for still more power. But the dumbass, happy sheeple will not fight it. Many will not even know about it, as they sit on their asses watching American Idol.

I think it’s interesting that they only charge it on residences, not businesses. So – some runoff is more equal than others?

It still is pretty hilarious – I think they need to also make a ‘sunshine’ tax, based on the reflectivity of your property. Because the more radiation you reflect into space, the more you’ll reduce global warming. (Or is it the other way around? Because trees evaporate water, causing cooling…).

    David Gerstman in reply to radiofreeca. | April 28, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    No, it’s charged to businesses too. Worse than that, not even religious institutions which are usually exempt from property taxes are exempt from this one.

My water bill from the city includes a charge for “Stormwater Service” in the form a fee.

“The charge is based on the amount of impervious surface area of a property. A typical residential property has an average impervious surface area of 1,610 square feet. This measurement is called an Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU). The number of ERUs for non-residential, commercial developed property and vacant, improved property is calculated by dividing the impervious surface area of the property by 1,610.”

If this is “rain tax” – it has been around for a long time in much of this country.

My cousin, the architect, would tell you that in many parts of Pennsylvania, there is no need for a rain tax because “hard water runoff” is required to be captured and held on-site.

There are many, many parking lots with what is lovely called an “underground swimming pool” to hold the runoff till it can be absorbed into the ground. Less than 10% of this “hard water” is allowed to just run off.

Maryland is just later to table trying to solve this problem, and, as usual, the politicians turned it into a revenue source.

    Paul in reply to Neo. | April 29, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    Funny, because in some western states (I think Colorado and/or Oregon) you can get arrested for capturing and holding surface water…. technically it doesn’t belong to you even if it lands on property you own. Ain’t big government great?

Meanwhile, in the “Live Free or Die State” of New Hampshire, legislators are poised to pass into law a limitation upon the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus that can be applied to lawns based upon the premise that such fertilizer winds up in its entirety in surface water.

Do you suppose that there is empirical evidence that this is the case?

No, of course not. The empirical evidence clearly demonstrates the exact opposite.

The basis upon which this legislation is founded is entirely theoretical, based upon computer modeling

So what, you say?

This legislation will do irreparable damage to my business without contributing one iota to the perceived problem.

To wit you will say, doesn’t affect me because I am not a lawn care contractor…

(sound familiar? it should)

Sooner or later these bastards will be knocking on your door, you know…

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to turfmann. | April 29, 2013 at 7:26 am

    It’s similar to the “global warming” models – all thoeretical bullshit based on a leftist political agenda to control all resources, thereby controlling/manipulating the economy as well as the activities and financial status of the people.

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