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The House of Delegates on Monday night approved a change in the way the corporate income tax is computed in an effort to benefit companies that are headquartered in Maryland and employ many people here.

By an 88-47 vote, the House voted to switch to a so-called "single sales factor" in computing the tax. The system calculates the amount of a company's business that is subject to Maryland taxation by looking at its percentage of sales in the state. Under the current system, the company's property and payroll also figure into the calculation.

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Proponents of the change argued that the system in place penalizes companies that employ many Marylanders and have physical facilities in the state. Switching to a single sales factor was one of the recommendations of a high-level commission -- chaired by former Lockheed Martin Chairman Norman R. Augustine -- formed to study the state's business climate.

While supporters pointed to the Maryland-based businesses that would benefit, opponents focused on the companies that would pay more in taxes.

"It punishes companies that want to come into out state and do business,' said Del. Brett Wilson, a Republican from Hagerstown.

The bill found the Maryland Chamber of Commerce in alliance with the House Democratic leadership and opposed to its frequent allies on the Republican side. The chamber has made the single sales factor one of its priorities this year.

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