Guest Article By: Matt McDonald
Recently Governor LePage released his proposed two-year budget for the State of Maine. With a simple search of Google or Social Media, one will find that this budget is becoming a large source of debate and conversation. People across the political spectrum have expressed their views on what this budget may or may not accomplish if passed.
My major concern with the budget is not that the next time I get a haircut or play a round of golf it’s going to cost me a few extra dollars because of the new tax that is being placed on them, but that if it is passed it will allow local municipalities to make up revenue sharing gaps by assessing property tax on nonprofit groups and organizations.
According to the Executive Director of the Maine Republican Party and a Republican State Senator, places of worship will be exempt from this taxation, but places like hospitals, community centers, soup kitchens and food pantries will not if their property is worthy more than $500,000.00.
I was told (well technically tweeted to) by this same Executive Director that the reasoning that these groups should be taxed is because they aren’t paying their “fair share” to the local municipalities even though they consume a percent of the local resources.
Not paying their fair share?
Let me remind the Governor, and those who might back this proposed idea, just what the many non-profits in Maine actually do; they do work that the government cannot do, and most of them do it in a lean, efficient, and high impact manner.
Feed and clothe the needy, help addicts recovery from substance abuse, offer educational opportunities for children and adults, advocacy for the elderly, provide safety for those who are in abuse situations, help with job training, provide legal advice, tend to the welfare of animals and wildlife, these are just a few of the services that nonprofits in Maine offer.
One of the reasons these groups and organizations are free from property taxes is because the services they offer have been deemed a benefit to their community.
In my opinion it is not in the best interest of the State of Maine, of the local towns and cities and in particularly the taxpayers to increase the burden on any of the nonprofit groups and organizations found in the State of Maine.
I applaud the Governor’s efforts in the arena of welfare reform, job creation, and particularly his work in trying to stop domestic abuse in Maine. I would hope that he, his administration and the State Legislature would take the time necessary to do the research and see what damage it would cause if this form of taxation is pushed through.
Matt McDonald is a guest blogger at the Undercover Porcupine. He has fourteen years experience in the nonprofit sector. He is politically independent and loves to travel. You can follow him on Twitter @Matt_McDonald_