By Rebecca Lessner
Taxpayers may see an extra donation check-off box next year on their Maryland tax forms, with public financing falling alongside several advocacy funds on their income tax return form.
The Fair Campaign Financing Fund (FCFF) passed 134-6 in the House Tuesday morning, allowing taxpayers to donate up to $500 each to a fund which will finance the campaigns of future governors and lieutenant governors. It now heads to the Senate, where an identical bill has already had a hearing in the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee but hasn’t advanced to the floor.
HB 485 creates a check-off box that gives taxpayers the opportunity to have campaign fund donations deducted from their income tax-return that year, or to have the donation added onto any fees owed.
According to Legislative Services, in 2013 taxpayers contributed a total of $1.8 million through these check-offs.
Gov. Larry Hogan was the first candidate in state history to use public financing in a successful campaign that led to his election last year. He is spearheading HB 485, and his office has said it would help candidates running with grassroots support rather than personal wealth or major donors.
Donations will be processed through the comptroller’s office, where administrative costs will be deducted and the remaining sum will be sent to the FCFF.
Currently the form includes boxes for three special fund check-offs; the Chesapeake
Bay and Endangered Species Fund, the Cancer Research Fund and the Developmental Disabilities Services and Support Fund Contribution.
Having the check off as a voluntary option will help to balance the flow of money among candidates