Jan
25
2015

Gov. Paul LePage (R, Maine) wants to impose property taxes on colleges, nonprofits, other Democratic party affiliates.

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.

Via TaxProf Blog and Instapundit.

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.

13 Comments

  • jaytrain says:

    One of the targets of said tax would be Bowdoin College which has hit way above its weight in destroying academic standards in favor feel good whatever identity ‘studies ‘ . Could not happen to a more deserving bunch of folks

  • Darin_H says:

    Cut. Jib. Newsletter.

  • acat says:

    Eh, unless the State schools are not owned by the State, which seems .. weird .. it’s gonna leave most of the card-carrying cranio-rectally-inverted invertebrate members of the lefty “intelligentsia” pretty much right where they are..
    .
    Not sure how many hospitals are still owned by religious outfits, but – depending on exactly how the tax carve-out gets done – it could be interesting.
    .
    I also expect this to happen in the rest of the Northeast .. but until Cali gets on board, it may – like NY fusion tickets – not get widespread uptake.
    .
    Mew

    • nicklevi86 says:

      The school section is probably a bone to liberals who wouldn’t mind taxing the charter eduction experiment out of business. The private residential prep school is a cottage industry up here That could stand to contribute, and Knocking down all the hoitytoity private colleges would be a boon to the struggling University of Maine system.
      .
      As for the the hospitals, they just received twenty years of medicaid back-payments from the state. I expect the state wants a peice of that pie back.

  • Herp McDerp says:

    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.
     

    Harvard’s Endowment Is Bigger Than Half the World’s Economies
    Harvard University’s largest-in-the-country endowment saw returns of 15.4 percent in the last year, and now stands at $36.4 billion.
     
    Heh heh heh heh heh …

  • Mikey NTH says:

    “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.”

    I have advocated this elsewhere – if Pres. Obama wants to raise taxes then turn right around and raise them – and raise them right over the bodies of his base. Want free Community College? Right, just take it out of the endowments of Ivy League colleges.

    They did not build that, correct? At some point they have made enough money, correct? Well then we are taking that away from them for the greater good.

    I can imagine a whole series of laws on foundations from maximum salaries for officers, maximum number of paid employees (sort of like the naval treaties before WWII on maximum tonnages overall and maximum size per ship for a class of warship) and a maximum amount in the coffers per year for a foundation; as in “if you do not expend this money then we will confiscate and spend it for you.”

    Mess with Obama’s base to the point that they will beg him to sit down and Shut Up.

  • Antoninus Pius says:

    as i recall, someone said that the states are the laboratories of democracy. let them try this experiment out and see how it cooks up.

  • mgarbowski says:

    Exempting religious institutions is guaranteed to cause all the right heads to explode. But I also have some concern that this could be the thin wedge to such an expansion with a religious exemption.

  • johnv2 says:

    Why exempt religious institutions? There are plenty of religious institutions that routinely advocate for more government services. Give them what they say they want, and be sure to give them the bill. Let’s have lots of pain, shared across the board, when taxes are raised.

    • Luke says:

      Or, you could just enforce the current law about political speech against left-leaning religious organisations as well as right-leaning ones.
      .
      Which I’m in favor of, if for no other reason than this being the best way to get the current law struck down as unconstitutional.
      (The damage it would do to Sharpton, Jackson and Wright is just pure gravy. Especially in conjunction with a very thorough audit…)

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