March Advocacy Update

The Legislature has been going full speed this month and there’s much to report.

The proposal to cap FY15 historic preservation tax credits (HPTC) on a statewide level reared its head once again but in the end, was rejected by the Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs (AFA). GrowSmart Maine joined with several other HPTC supporters to testify in opposition to this proposal.  There was no testimony in support of the idea and very strong reasons given to not pursue the cap.  In addition, Maine Revenue Services provided a memo to AFA, outlining added costs to implement the cap, both for their staff and noting additional tracking required for eligible taxpayers.  Given this information, AFA voted to remove the annual cap from budget discussion.  A Big Win for communities across Maine.

 The Taxation Committee voted unanimously to support LD 1661, which redefines a project under the historic preservation tax credit.  The language of the bill has been amended for clarity, though Maine Revenue Service will rewrite the language and provide a fiscal note.  The committee will review the new language before it goes to the full Legislature.  If passed, this new language will clarify that portions of large historic buildings are eligible for the tax credit.

The Taxation Committee came close to a vote on LD 1664, which would remove a newly implemented cap on itemized deductions, including charitable giving. The committee adjourned late Friday afternoon so members could attend House and Senate sessions.  There was a motion made to accept an impressive amendment put forth by Senate Chair Anne Haskell.  This amendment would do two things:  sunset to inclusion of charitable donations in the annual cap and allow impacted taxpayers to carry forward deductions exceeding the cap, claiming the deductions over the next four years at 25% each year.  We see this as a reasonable solution to minimize the impact of the newly-created cap on deductions. GrowSmart Maine sent out an ACTION ALERT on Tuesday, asking members to contact members of the Taxation Committee.  It’s not too late to do so!