I don’t know whether this is demonic, inspired, or both: “A sweeping proposal to cut taxes for Maine families and businesses could upend one of the most widely accepted practices in the country: the property-tax exemption for nonprofit organizations… A recent budget plan by Republican Gov. Paul LePage calling for an overhaul of individual, corporate and sales taxes also would make Maine the first state in the nation to require colleges, hospitals and other large charities to go on the property-tax rolls in their municipalities.” This proposal – which specifically exempts “churches and government-owned entities” – would be the first of its kind in the country, and will probably not pass without a bloody brawl in the state legislature.
Is it a good idea, though? Depends. On the one hand, it’s a tax hike. On the other hand, it’s a tax hike that would be part of a more comprehensive series of tax simplification and reform (which is the way to get conservatives to sign off on a tax hike). On the gripping hand, it’s a tax hike that is aimed squarely at academics and NGOs… which is to say, it’s aimed at people who typically instinctively get upset when a Republican wins an election. There’s no real reason for us to pretend that that last point isn’t a legitimate one for consideration. Hey, some people like governmental intervention and oversight, right? … So, here: have some. Right between the eyes.
Moe Lane (crosspost)
PS: I would be remiss if I did not note that this sort of thing is actually likely to happen in the rest of the Northeast, too. There are a lot of Blue-Model state governments strapped for cash, and they’re going to need to raid somebody for it. Non-church* groups enjoying property tax exemptions are going to be a tempting target.
PPS: As a matter of practicality: if I was the governor I’d give ground on the hospitals. Assuming that’s not the plan all along.
*Churches will, much to the disgust of the more fundamentalist secularists, enjoy favored status for quite a bit longer. And when I say ‘disgust’ I probably should have typed out ‘impotent disgust:’ said fundamentalist secularists will undoubtedly protest mightily, and angrily, and with just the faintest connotation of incomprehension about why nobody seems to care about the logic of their position. I maybe could explain it to them, but I don’t really want to.