Lawmakers in the Maryland House of Delegates outlined a tax-relief package on Friday that would steer about $300 million over five years to working and middle class families, partly by cutting the state's sales tax on goods like diapers, car seats and diabetic care products.
House Speaker Adrienne Jones made the announcement with other House leaders and delegates who are sponsoring the legislation. The speaker said despite federal assistance to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the record amount of state relief approved last year, families are still struggling to make ends meet and afford basic necessities.
“As the price of basic goods continues to rise, it’s getting harder and harder for working families’ budgets to keep up with rising costs," said Jones, a Baltimore County Democrat. "It’s clear that any extra cash we can put back in the pockets of struggling Marylanders and boost their budgets makes a difference.”
Under one measure, the state's 6% sales tax would not apply to baby products like diapers, car seats and baby bottles. Another proposal exempts dental hygiene products like toothbrushes and toothpaste from the sales tax.
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The sales tax also would not apply to diabetic care products, under another bill in the package.
“Cutting the sales tax on medical devices and diabetic care products will give Marylanders on fixed incomes and those providing home care to family members critical relief on products that can be extremely expensive," said Del. Vanessa Atterbeary, a Howard County Democrat who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee.
Del. Eric Luedtke, a Montgomery County Democrat, is sponsoring a bill to create a state match to the federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit for employers who hire and retain workers from underrepresented communities who consistently struggle for job opportunities.
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The targeted groups for the credit include people who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, veterans, people experiencing long-term unemployment, people whose families receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, as well as residents who are vocational rehabilitation certified with a physical or mental disability.
“This program is proven to break the cycle of unemployment for those who participate," said Luedtke, the House majority leader.
The sales tax exemptions, which would be permanent under the legislation, would apply to everyone. The work opportunity tax credit measure would apply to tax years 2022 through 2028.