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Renovation tax credits face cuts or elimination

February 13, 2003|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

With the help of a state tax credit for renovating historic buildings, Julie and Brent Stinar were able to restore a farmhouse next to Antietam National Battlefield to its Civil War glory.

But this year the Maryland General Assembly is considering reducing or eliminating the tax credit because of the state's budget problems.

Advocates of the tax credit, which allows developers or homeowners to get a 20 percent refund on the cost of a renovation project, converged in Annapolis on Wednesday to try to save the program.

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Although Stinar was not at the hearing, she contacted Sen. Donald F. Munson's office in support.

"In my opinion the tax credit is such a great way to honor the people who were in this county beforehand," said Stinar, of 18502 Burnside Bridge Road.

Stinar declined to say the exact value of her tax credits, but said it was in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Homeowners get only a small portion of the credits. In most cases, developers have used the program to revitalize older neighborhoods, advocates testified before the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee.

A bill introduced by Sen. Lowell Stoltzfus, R-Eastern Shore, would end the credits this year instead of June 2004.

Over the next two years, the credits will cost the state $126 million, according to estimates by the Department of Legislative Services.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich has proposed saving the program by capping the credits at $25 million a year.

The Maryland General Assembly is under pressure to make large budget cuts this year to eliminate a projected $1.8 billion deficit over 18 months.

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