Saturday, 13 April 2013

This Rainwater Tax Episode

So here is the episode.  The EPA came out and said it was all terrible in the water run-off that went into the Chesapeake Bay from Maryland.  This was destroying the bay.  So the contraption that was worked out to the total agreement of the EPA (a federal device, remember)....was that Maryland would create a state rainwater tax.

So the way this works.....you own a house, and it has either seepage plus or run-off minus.  You add up the roof, then the driveway, the garage, and the various solid areas.  How much is the tax?  Well....in this case, it works backwards.  The political folks added up what it'd take to make the EPA happy, and roughly $15 billion was the number.  So the ten biggest counties in Maryland are supposed to figure out the square footage, and then deliver a bill for you to pay.

How would you avoid the tax?  Well....you could start by ripping up your driveway and just making it dirt.  Never mind the $12k that you paid for asphalt back fifteen years ago.  You could yank up the concrete patio on the rear of the house.  You could arrange rainwater barrels to catch all the water off your roof (like the Germans do).

Course, Maryland would still have to collect the $15 billion, so they'd have to double-up the tax within a year or two after you make your advantages known.

The other side of the episode?  Well....parking lots for malls, casinos, and office buildings will be the biggest contributor to the $15 billion fund.  So they will all have to insert more costs into their operations.    Cheaper goods in Virginia?  Yes.  Cheaper gas in Virginia?  Yes.  Cheaper tennis shoes at the malls in Virginia?  Yes.

After a while, folks will figure out the cost angle and mostly shop out of state.  The $15 billion tag?  It'll just become more diversified.  Eventually....the paving industry in Maryland will complain that they have little if any business.

All of this....because the EPA was upset about how rainwater rain into the bay.  Living in a civilized world cost a lot.  You might eventually agree that moving to a uncivilized state....like West Virginia....might be a wise financial idea.  

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