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May 13, 2013

Tax overhaul runs into industry opposition

A plan to overhaul Maine's tax system that involves cutting income taxes and raising sales taxes drew opposition from the tourism industry in public hearings Friday.

The Portland Press Herald reported that the Maine Tourism Association, Ski Maine Association and Maine Innkeepers Association joined the Maine State Chamber of Commerce and other groups in testifying against the bill proposed by the bipartisan Gang of 11.

The paper reported that criticism from those groups centered on removing certain tax exemptions from Maine's tax code.

The bill's chief proponent, Sen. Dick Woodbury, I-Yarmouth, said the removal of those exemptions was intended to spread tax increases among a greater number of groups, but opponents say raising any sales or excise taxes would make their businesses less competitive.

The bill also proposes to tax certain services, which Maine Association of Realtors representative Linda Gifford said would increase the cost of buying a home as Realtor commissions, appraisals and other work would be taxed.

A Maine Municipal Association analysis of the bill estimates it would reduce property taxes for most property owners by about $500 a year.

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