Tax policy hits and misses in the 2024 legislative session

The second session of the 131st legislature delivered some surprising tax policy proposals and outcomes. From a bipartisan proposal to raise taxes on wealthy households to a new corporate tax transparency law, here are the top tax policy proposals Maine Center for Economic Policy followed.  

Biggest surprise — bipartisan proposal to raise taxes on the rich

A bipartisan proposal, LD 1231, came out of the Taxation Committee to create a new top tax bracket of 8.45 percent on taxable income over $500,000, with a corresponding expansion in the bottom bracket to make the bill revenue neutral. The Governor ultimately vetoed this bill, citing process concerns, lack of benefits for Mainers with low income, and fears of volatility. But bipartisan support for raising taxes on people with wealth is a huge step forward for Maine, showing legislators in both parties recognize many Mainers are struggling and making our tax system fairer will help address this problem.  

Missed opportunity — reigning in monopoly behavior

LD 1815, a bill that would have given renewed teeth to Maine’s anti-monopoly laws was gutted by the Legislature’s Committee on Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement and Business, despite well-documented evidence of these harms on consumers and small businesses. This legislation would have made it illegal for businesses to abuse their market dominance and allow them to be sued for damages. The impact of abusive market dominance practices in Maine is far reaching, harming communities and driving small businesses from our main streets. The next legislature must seriously consider how to protect Mainers from these harms and their impact on the vitality of Maine communities. 

Most promising — corporate tax transparency

Maine’s new corporate tax transparency law, LD 1337, will allow lawmakers and the public to see — for the first time — how many of the biggest corporations doing business in Maine are paying $0 in taxes. This information will help the legislature determine if big corporations in Maine are paying their fair share in taxes, and if not, help hold them accountable.    

Unforced error — tax giveaway for Sea Dogs

LD 2258, a $2 million refundable tax break for the Sea Dogs over 15 years, was approved by the legislature and signed by the Governor despite a mountain of evidence showing it is a bad investment. The funds will go to Diamond Baseball Holdings (DBH), one of the biggest owners of minor league baseball teams in the US, a subsidiary of Silver Lake investment, one of the top private equity firms in the world. DBH argued it couldn’t afford the repairs to Hadlock Stadium required by Major League Baseball, some of which have already been made. Now Maine taxpayers will foot the bill instead. 

Honorable mention — questioning tax giveaways

The Committee on Taxation quashed a number of bills (LD 643, LD 1075, LD 1222, LD 1974) proposing tax giveaways for corporations and recommended the Legislature study others further before taking action. These votes show a growing bipartisan skepticism of corporate subsidies, where big businesses get big tax breaks at the expense of everyday Mainers.