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Struggling businesses can’t afford a digital ad tax during a pandemic | COMMENTARY

Maryland General Assembly Democratic leaders House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones, left, and Senate President Bill Ferguson.
Maryland General Assembly Democratic leaders House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones, left, and Senate President Bill Ferguson. (Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun)

As a small-business owner in Maryland and someone who has been fighting tooth and nail to stay open and profitable during this worldwide pandemic, I cannot believe the Maryland General Assembly is seriously contemplating taxing digital advertising. There couldn’t be a worse time in human history to raise the cost of doing business for small businesses, and make no mistake that is exactly what H.B. 732 will do. Full stop.

I understand why Senate President Bill Ferguson thinks he is doing the right thing by going after “Big Tech,” but I hope he can come to understand that his $250 million tax won’t be paid by them. It will be paid by his own constituents, by Marylanders. They think they are taxing big, out-of-state companies, but the truth is that Maryland businesses of all sizes will pay.

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Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed this tax because he understood the impact of COVID-19 on our state economy and that this was the wrong time to raise taxes when so many people and businesses are struggling in the worst economy since the Great Depression. When the legislative session begins in January there are countless items on lawmakers’ agenda they need to take up to help our state fight through and recover from this virus. Making life more expensive for small businesses should not be one of them. Here’s some free advice: Go back to the drawing board, there has to be another way, a better way that doesn’t hurt small businesses and their employees.

Alexander Fakeri, Baltimore

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The writer is chief executive officer of MOJO Creative Digital.

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