Officials still struggling to see how federal tax cuts will affect Montgomery County

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ROCKVILLE — When County finance officials arrived Monday to a pre-scheduled briefing with the Montgomery County Council on the effects the recently-passed federal tax cuts will have on the County, the analysis they provided to the Council was sobering: they don’t know what the effects will be. 

Monday’s briefing, which brought together legislative staff, finance officials and economists to meet with the County Council, came on the heels of the release of a report by the state comptroller on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed in December. While the session was meant as a briefing to the Council on the potential impact of the tax cuts – which already have resulted in a $120 million budget shortfall for the current fiscal year – after less than three months under the overhauled tax code, it is still too early to tell what the effect will be on the County and state.


Education committee recommends $30 million cuts

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The Montgomery County Council Education Committee considered County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett’s (D) proposed cuts in funding for Montgomery County Public Schools and Montgomery College last week when the Council’s committees met to nail down the details of how best to absorb the projected $120 million budget shortfall brought about by the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. 

“We understand that this is a moment of unique times although unfortunately for us in the County it seems to be this uniqueness happen more often, which kind of redefines uniqueness,” said Council member Craig Rice (D-3), who chairs the Education Committee.


“Ease the Burden”

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Local leaders look to mitigate effects of federal tax plan

Local leaders are bracing for the impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which could hit County residents hard by eliminating a useful deduction for high tax states and cities.

On Wednesday both the House and Senate passed the long-awaited tax bill, which provides for $1.5 trillion in federal tax cuts and temporarily the top income tax rate from 39.6 percent to 37 percent. The bill’s personal income tax cuts were written to expire in some years to meet requirements imposed by Senate rules, while cuts to the nation's corporate tax rate are permanent.

“This is one of the most important pieces of legislation that Congress has passed in decades to help the American worker, to help grow the American economy,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc), who has been pushing for massive tax cuts for the majority of his political career. “This is profound change, and this is change that is going to put our country on the right path.”

While many Americans’ taxes will be decreased, a provision in the bill that caps property tax deductions at $10,000 has become an issue for residents in places with high property taxes according to elected leaders.

Montgomery County Council member Roger Berliner (D-1) wrote a letter urging Montgomery County Chief Administrative Officer Timothy Firestine to allow residents to prepay property taxes in order take advantage of the current, and more favorable tax deduction before the new tax cut takes effect.

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