November 20, 2007

Maryland Car Washes Live to See Another Day

As Maryland lawmakers pack up after completing a month-long special session on tax reform, dozens of Maryland lobbying groups are thanking their lucky stars they didn't get dinged.

Typical is the reaction of the Mid-Atlantic Carwash Association, which isn't happy that sales and cigarette tax rate hikes got enacted, but is delighted that the sales tax will still not apply to carwashes:
“All in all, I think we have to feel relieved,” said David DuGoff, president of the MCA. “Even though we will get stung by the increases, we can live with them, especially compared to the devastating effect of a sales tax on carwashing.”
Every industry goes on record arguing that taxing them would be devastating, of course. But one hopes these guys (and MD lawmakers, to say nothing of the public) can see the big picture. The victory of the car washers, and of the health clubs and the various other businesses that still won't have to collect sales tax because Maryland lawmakers chickened out from doing the right thing, comes at the direct expense of... every other individual and business in the state who currently pays sales tax, and who will now pay sales tax at a higher rate.

And every occasion on which the carwashers win their lobbying battle, marginally increases the likelihood that the rest of us will face a higher sales tax rate (or income tax rate) further down the road. Tax breaks are never free-- everyone else has to pay for them.

It's that simple.


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