Archive for » March 12th, 2017«

Illinois considers applying sales taxes to more services – Chicago Sun

SPRINGFIELD — If you get your nails done at a salon or have your lawn mulched next spring, the service could be taxed under a plan Illinois lawmakers are considering to help fill a multibillion-dollar hole in the state budget.

The idea comes as part of a proposal to increase state revenue tied to a Senate compromise intended to break the state’s two-year stalemate over an annual spending plan. The “grand bargain” stalled last month before the revenue measure came to a vote.

But lawmakers say they’ll keep working on the plan.

The provision would tax eight service categories at the same 6.25 percent rate applied to most sales in Illinois. These newly taxable services constitute the second-largest source of annual funding in the proposal after the revenue bill’s income tax increase.

Here’s what the sales tax expansion would do:

LAGGING BEHIND ITS NEIGHBORS

Illinois has one of the narrowest tax bases in the nation — a potential problem for a state that, according to the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, is more dependent on services than any of its Great Lakes neighbors.

The commission reports that Illinois taxes only 17 services compared to a national average of 56. And 12 of those come from public utilities levied under separate statutes such as the gas tax. Sales taxes do apply to five services including photo processing and car rentals. But that total puts Illinois behind all other surrounding states.

Democratic Sen. Toi Hutchinson of Olympia Fields, the bill’s sponsor, said lawmakers selected only services taxed elsewhere in the Midwest to ensure Illinois remains competitive.

She said Wisconsin — a Republican-led state that applies a sales tax to 16 service categories — served as a model to help build bipartisan support. Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has said he is open to mirroring Wisconsin’s model.

Hutchinson contends rolling out service taxes will allow Illinois to catch up with a modern, service-based economy.

“Our economy used to be things we made,” she said. “Now, it’s things we do.”

BUILDING A BROADER TAX BASE

Hutchinson’s proposal would tax the use of storage space, including parking garages and boat docks; repairs and maintenance of personal property such as cars; landscaping services such as sprinkler installation and snow removal; dry-cleaning; cable TV, satellite and digital streaming services; pest control; use of a private detective or installation of a home security system; and personal care, ranging from tanning to tattooing but not including hairstyling. Some states tax other major services such as internet access and gym memberships. Illinois would not.

Taxing these services was originally projected to bring in $360 million per year, but an adjusted estimate now places that number at $291 million — a smaller piece of the $6 billion puzzle Hutchinson’s revenue bill must complete to help balance the budget.
Tom Johnson, president emeritus of the Taxpayers’ Federation of Illinois, said taxing services is a commonsense place to start because it targets purchases made most often by those with more disposable income.

“Adding services to a sales tax base will always make the tax less regressive,” Johnson said.

THE PROS AND CONS

Hutchinson says lawmakers are past due for a frank conversation on raising revenue as social service providers and universities await state funds and Illinois’ budget deficit grows by $11 million each day.

“Nobody can balance the budget on only one side of the books,” she said.
But Illinois Chamber of Commerce President Todd Maisch questions the practice of targeting selected services for taxation.

“Every taxpayer should be very concerned when state government decides to pick winners and losers,” he said, adding that the tax would make small businesses less productive and crimp employee earnings.

Daniel Swaar, a 30-year-old landscaping business owner in Mason City, Illinois, heard about the proposed tax last month. He said it would mean pay cuts and longer hours for him and his twin brother, who co-owns and operates the business, because area homeowners cannot afford to pay higher prices.

“If we did that, we’d start losing business,” he said.


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Our view: Dredging deregulation boosts shore boating culture …

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Outdoors: Taking the pulse on upcoming striper season

Since Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources announced a few days ago that the 2017 trophy rockfish season will open April 15, it seems like a good time to take the pulse on the upcoming striper season. So I reached out to a few dozen folks, from charter boat skippers and guides to sport anglers and conservationists. And while there were diverging opinions — how many big cow stripers we should be taking out of the breeding stock was one major difference — I have to tell you, I was greatly impressed and heartened by their replies.

Some expressed relief that DNR has (hopefully) removed from its tool box the “slot” option, a convoluted experiment from 2015 that was universally loathed. A few fishermen even expressed a desire to open more areas to catch-and-release after the spring run. Professional guide Kevin Josenhans, for example, would like to see the Choptank open for catch and release from below the Route 50 bridge, “beginning May 15 when (the) mainstem of bay is catch-and-keep. June 1 is too late. The current boundary is not marked. The bridge is definitely marked. No fish would be hurt.”

As most of us who love rockfish know, the Chesapeake is the motherland for spawning stripers. Biologists estimate that currently about three-quarters of the total number of stripers spawn in bay rivers; historically that number could have been as high as 90 percent, or even greater. Successful spawns greatly depend on the convergence of optimal factors, principally air and water temperature and salinity. Only a few spawns over the past decade or so have been above the long-term average, however. In fact, the 2016 young-of-the-year class is one of the smallest in the last 20 years. So that’s a worrisome trend.

Harry T. Hornick, manager of Maryland’s Striped Bass Program at DNR, said rockfish caught during the 2016 trophy season were from “the strong 2003 year-class (that) made up over 27 percent of the harvest.” He added that the Chesapeake’s striper harvest has been “carefully controlled by a quota system, which has been annually adjusted according to population size.” The next coast-wide striper stock assessment is expected to be completed by 2018.

The ASMFC is expected to review the possible adjustment at its May meeting, and if the board moves quickly it’s possible anglers fishing in Maryland waters will be able to keep 19-inch stripers beginning September through the remainder of the year. What about lowering it to 18 inches? Sure, if you want 80 less fishing days, says Michael Luisi of DNR’s Fishing and Boating Services. That’d be the requirement under the conservation equivalency. I feel confident in saying no one wants fewer days on the water, nor do they want to increase the creel from the current two-fish per person per day.

“We need a reduced size limit for our summer/fall fishery to make our region appealing to recreational anglers,” says Capt. Shawn Gibson, who runs the charter boat Wound Tight. He adds that in recent summers many rockfish in the lower to mid 20-inch range “seems to migrate north from the lower bay, leaving anglers in Maryland’s lower and mid-bay regions with little to no fish in the legal size range.”

Capt. Jeff Eichler of Southpaw Charters is also in favor of the 19-inch summer rockfish. “It should help with not killing so many fish,” he thinks.

And count Annapolis native Captain Harry Nield, owner of the Deal Island-based charter operation Kingfish II, among those hoping for a 19-inch rockfish. “It would help us out a great deal. After attending the last several ASMFC meetings it is clear as to what we are up against on this issue. Let’s hope the northern states will cooperate with us on this one,” he says.

ROCKFISH RULES: Size is measured from the tip of the snout to the tip of the tail.

Trophy Season: April 15 through midnight May 15. Limit of one rockfish per person, per day, 35 inches or larger.

Summer/fall Season: May 16 through Dec. 20. Two fish per day greater than 20 inches, with one required to be less than 28 inches.

Coastal: Open year-round with a two-fish daily limit, between 28 and 38 inches or larger than 44 inches.

Email outdoors news, photos and calendar listings to cdollar@cdollaroutdoors.com.

Outdoors Calendar

March 13: Pasadena Sportfishing Group monthly meeting. Simon Brown of Maryland’s DNR to discuss the 2017 rockfish regulations. Earleigh Heights VFC, 161 Ritchie Highway, Severna Park. Doors open at 6 p.m., meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. Free and open to the public. Visit pasadenasportfishing.com.

March 15: MSSA Annapolis Chapter Meeting. Eric Zlokovitz of the Maryland DNR will discuss the 2017 rockfish regulations. Meeting starts 7 p.m., American Legion Post #7, 1905 Crownsville Road. Free and open to public.

March 18: Left Kreh’s TieFest. Kent Narrows Yacht Club, Chester MD. Show hours 10 a.m.-4 p.m., includes casting demonstrations and more than 30 fly tiers. $10 for adults, kids 16 and under enter free.


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