Here is my sermon from Christmas Eve. Merry Christmas and may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
It was recently noted that in Maryland, due to the way Maryland tax law is written, next year gay couples can not file their taxes jointly unless federal or Maryland law is changed. Why? Here's a little from the Washington Times:
The state comptroller's office says it plans to continue requiring same-sex couples to file separate state-level income-tax returns as long as federal law requires separate federal returns, even though all other states recognizing same-sex marriage that collect income tax allow the couples to file jointly.
Maryland officials say they have no immediate plans to change the state’s policy, even though they acknowledge that separate returns have added to paperwork for same-sex couples and sometimes force them to pay higher taxes.
“Unless federal law changes, we can’t change anything,” said Kim Frum, spokeswoman for Maryland Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot, a Democrat. “We are aware of what other states do, but that’s not how we do things.”
Ms. Frum said the state’s income-tax rules are bound by federal regulations because the state tax is calculated using adjusted federal gross income as a starting point.
Franchot responded after this was posted here:
"Yesterday’s Washington Times article contained significant misinformation regarding the tax filing status of same-sex couples in Maryland. Contrary to the tone and the facts contained in the story, same-sex couples in the State of Maryland – whether married in this state or in other states – will have the opportunity to file joint tax returns for Tax Year 2013, and will receive the same state tax treatment as any married couple.
"This will occur either as a result of a legislative action, or if necessary, a regulatory change, either of which is necessary because Maryland’s tax code is conjoined to the IRS unless specifically decoupled. My senior staff and I will work with legislative leaders over the next few weeks to determine the most appropriate course of action."
Emphasis mine. Franchot is saying that Maryland law was to change in order for them to file jointly. So - O'Malley pushed for gay marriage in Maryland but didn't have the foresight to consider the fact that tax law in Maryland would also have to be modified simultaneously to allow gay couples to file jointly.
Yea, that's a failure if I ever saw one.
I wrote before about how Baltimore County Council Chair Almond (D) proposed a $250,000 loan at a 2% interest rate (plus an additional $50,000 which will be forgiven after 10 years), for a property in Dundalk. Well, it passed and should easily be signed by the County Executive. It makes me ask, what is this property actually worth?
Maryland Department of Assets & Taxation says...$125,000. Why does the property owner need a loan from the county for 150% of the actual current value of the property? Why was the property owner unable to get a loan from a traditional bank source? What made the county think this person was a worthwhile source who will definitively pay back the county? I do not know if these questions were asked and, frankly, have a difficult time finding out how county council members voted based on the County Council's website.
We need more conservatives on the County Council. Having 2 Republicans in the 7 member chamber is not going to make a difference - we need more who care about the fiscal state of the county and do not support handing out free money, even if the cause seems nice. I have an idea of someone I'd like to see run in my district, but we shall see...and I'll discuss that one at a later date.
Let's hope the County Council doesn't give out more free money before the year ends.
UPDATE: Uncapher himself has dismissed the rumor, but still - an interesting interview nonetheless.
Rumor has it, Montgomery County GOP Chair Mark Uncapher may try to unseat Mooney at the GOP convention this weekend. I interviewed him in 2010 when he considered a bid for MD GOP Treasurer. Below is a copy of that interview.
Matthew R. Newman: What made you decide to run for MD GOP Treasurer?
Mark Uncapher: I have been frustrated by the in-fighting among the State Party leadership during the past four years that has spilled in the press, including the contentious relationship for the Republican legislative leadership. While I had hoped that the party had finally “turned the corner” in the past year, I was disappointed by the failure of State Leadership to complete the necessary procedural steps that would have allowed us to designate a candidate for Attorney General.
MRN: How do you feel that the state party performed in the 2010 election cycle?
MU: We need to be honest with ourselves that Maryland Republicans did not perform as well as Republicans have done in other “Blue States” given the 2010 political environment. While we regained a House seat, the losses in the State Senate balanced by the gains in the House are essentially a push.
MRN: What are your thoughts on incumbent Treasurer Chris Rosenthal?
MU: Chris is a competent professional who unfortunately sees his “client” as being the immediate leadership of the party, rather than the Central Committee has a whole.
MRN: How do you feel your background will help qualify you for the position of MD GOP Treasurer?
MU: In addition to having held a variety of party offices, in both government and in the private sector, I have held a number of positions with financial management responsibility.
Over the course of my professional career, I have served in a variety of financial management positions in both the public and private sector. My past work includes:
Being responsible for providing staff review of New York City’s financial plan for the state’s Financial Control Board as Assistant Counsel to the New York State Comptroller,
Managing the technical accounting staff responsible for contractor financial reporting; compliance and financial audits for a $500 million entity, and
Serving as the principal staff member for Congressional oversight of the federal Inspectors General as Counsel to the House Subcommittee on Government Management.
MRN: What would be your top priority if selected as the next Treasurer of the State Central Committee?
MU: Increased transparency and better communication with Central Committee members.
MRN: What do you feel are the challenges that are facing the State Central Committee financially?
MU: We need too follow the example of more effective “Blue State” parties that win elections despite a challenging political environment. This includes developing and maintaining a base from like-minded supporters.
MRN: You mentioned that you “…found the financial reporting by the current Treasurer to be deficient at an especially critical time…” in your experience as a Montgomery County GOP Chair. Would you mind explaining that further?
MU: In July 2009 prior to a critical Executive Committee meeting Chris Cavey encouraged State Executive Committee members to contact Chris Rosenthal to learn more about the party’s financial position. Yet when I tried to do so, Chris Rosenthal effectively contradicted Chris Cavey. At a time when the party leadership needed unvarnished information about our finances, as an Executive Committee member, I could not get the specific detail requested from the Treasurer.
Yet just a few weeks later I learned that Chris Rosenthal was actively contemplating in the making a recommendation that the Maryland State Republican Party consider seek bankruptcy “protection.”
MRN: What do you feel is the most important visible role of the State Party Treasurer?
MRN: Do you have some specific ideas to improve upon the office of MD GOP Treasurer / to benefit the MD GOP’s finances?
MU: Combined response for #8 & #9: A successful political party requires a team effort. I look forward to working with the other committee members whose names have been circulated as running for the other offices. But we need more transparency and openness.
MRN: What’s the one thing you want to ensure Central Committee members know about your campaign / bid for Treasurer?
MU: I know that Conservatives and Republicans can win in a “Blue State” because I have been involved in multiple successful efforts to do it.
For example, from 1978 through 1990 I was a senior political operative for with the only person who has ever won four statewide elections in New York running on the Republican and Conservative Party lines. In 1993 and 1994 as Finance Chairman of the Brooklyn Republican Party, I was actively involved with the successful election of a Republican Mayor and Governor in New York.
2010 GOP Delegate candidate Bob Long released the following presser:
Homeowners need to contact the Maryland State Department of Assessment and Taxation to verify their eligibility for the Homestead Tax Credit. If you have not applied please go to the web site below or call the numbers that have been provided. If you fail to verify or re-apply for this tax credit you will no longer receive the Homestead Tax Credit on your property taxes. Without the Homestead Tax Credit your property taxes will increase drastically. I would advise that this be done as soon as possible; the deadline is December 31, 2012.
The Maryland State Department of Assessment and Taxation web site is www.dat.state.md.us or call 410- 767-2165 or toll free at 1-866-650-8783. Should you need any further help or information please contact me.