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Maryland's "Rain Tax" Will Soon Fall On Property Owners

Michael Tasselmyer
April 15, 2013

Maryland property owners may not feel like singin' in the rain when they see forecasts for showers and storms this summer.

On July 1, local governments in ten of the largest counties in Maryland -- including Baltimore, Howard, and Prince George's, as well as Baltimore City -- will begin collecting a so-called "rain tax." The fee will be charged to residents according to the square footage of "impervious surface" they own. As explained in The Gazette:

"In 2010 the Obama administration's Environmental Protection Agency ordered Maryland to reduce stormwater runoff into the Chesapeake Bay so that nitrogen levels fall 22 percent and phosphorus falls 15 percent from current amounts. The price tag: $14.8 billion.

And where do we get the $14.8 billion? By taxing so-called "impervious surfaces," anything that prevents rain water from seeping into the earth (roofs, driveways, patios, sidewalks, etc.) thereby causing stormwater run off. In other words, a rain tax."

The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States and has long been a point of focus for environmental agencies' protection efforts. Now, unfunded "clean up" mandates from the EPA and the State of Maryland have left local county governments with a hefty bill. Affected counties will have to determine the rates they'll charge property owners per square foot of runoff surface. According to the report above, satellite imagery will be used to help determine or substantiate the liability that individuals and organizations are responsible for paying. The state anticipates about 75 percent of the tax revenue will come from individual property owners, and the remaining 25 percent will come from non-residential property owners. 

Montgomery County, which borders Washington, D.C., already imposes a "rain tax." Last year it spent the $17 million it collected on various conservation education and training workshops. 

The tax will also be levied on buildings and parking lots belonging to non-profit organizations, such as charities, churches, and community service associations. For groups with multiple locations throughout the state, that could mean a significantly higher financial burden than what they've traditionally had to budget for.

Residential property owners in Maryland can expect to pay between $10-200 per year. Non-residential owners, however, could be looking at many thousands of dollars' worth of fees.


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