Despite opposition from Gov. Parris N. Glendening, the state Senate yesterday approved a $3 million tax break for banks.
The legislation, passed on a 41-6 vote, would shift banks from the financial institution franchise tax to the corporate and personal property taxes most other businesses face today.
It also would allow banks to avoid paying personal property taxes on some of their computer equipment.
Supporters claim the tax break will help keep bank securities operations in Maryland, but opponents questioned the high cost and whether it would accomplish that goal.
"This bill gives new meaning to the term, 'bank robbery,' " said Sen. Brian E. Frosh, Democrat from Montgomery County. "Lots of people said they wanted tax relief. Not one said to me, 'Give my bank tax relief.' "
The House has approved a tax break that is more generous to banks as part of a package of business-related tax reductions. A conference committee is expected to be formed to work out the differences.