Testimony on Tax Surcharge Bills

This week, the Legislature’s Taxation Committee heard testimony on a number of bills aiming to repeal or mitigate the 3 percent tax surcharge that was approved by referendum last November. As enacted, the law mandates that households with an income over $200,000 are subjected to an additional 3 percent tax that would be placed into a fund earmarked for education. The Committee heard testimony from more than 80 individuals, both in support of and opposed to the current law. Among the arguments advanced by proponents of the repeal were the anticipated increase in the number of Mainers who will relocate to states with lower taxes and the difficulty that businesses face in recruiting for high-level positions. Proponents of the tax argue that this is the best option for meeting the state’s 55 percent education funding threshold, a requirement that was passed by referendum in 2004.

Maine's Tax Revenue to Get a Boost

Beginning April 1, 2017, Amazon.com will start collecting Maine’s 5.5 percent state sales tax on all purchases shipped to Maine. Amazon began collecting sales tax for ten other states on January 1, 2017 and will begin collecting New Mexico state sales tax on April 1, 2017. Commissioner George Gervais of the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development expressed his support of this development on Monday, stating that applying the sales tax to Amazon purchases will help keep Maine-based businesses competitive. There is not yet an estimate on how much tax revenue this change will generate.

Robert Hasson Nominated for Commissioner of Education

Governor Paul LePage has nominated Dr. Robert G. Hasson, Jr. to be appointed Commissioner of the Department of Education. Since 2014, Acting Commissioners have managed the Department, and Mr. Hasson has been in that role since December 2016. Mr. Hasson served as a long-term superintendent of MSAD 51 in Cumberland and North Yarmouth, and more recently in leadership positions with the Maine School Superintendents and Maine School Management Associations. His nomination will next be considered by the Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs, and, if approved, will then be subject to Senate confirmation.