11:17 AM EDT, October 4, 2012
The proposed Universal Design Tax Credit Bill does a disservice to Howard County taxpayers. The bill would give tax credits to property owners for 50 percent of the costs of increasing accessibility of their homes, for example, by expanding doorways or installing handrails in their bathrooms.
The goal of increasing accessibility is laudable. However, the writing of the bill does not require that the homeowners need these renovations, or even require that they need financial assistance. If the goal is to increase accessibility, the county could pass zoning to require that all future structures have increased accessibility. If the bill is to financially help handicapped, the aid should not be tied to home renovations, or property taxes, but to need.
In effect, this bill is tax on all of us, specifically written to subsidize renovations of homes of those who may or may not be handicapped, and who may or may not be better off than the average taxpayer. Does the county really expect us all to chip in to these costs, so that the county can make home renovation decisions for us? Let's hope not.
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