The 3 quirkiest tax proposals we’ve seen so far

They include issues related to Maine lobsters and weekends in Las Vegas.
FILE – A plane takes off from Harry Reid International Airport near casinos along the Las Vegas Strip, Sept. 29, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

Every year lawmakers propose many tax changes we’ve seen before, and a few that raise our eyebrows. Here are three, plus an honorable mention.

Seen an unusual proposal in your state? Let us know!

1. The four-day work week incentivizer

Maryland Democrats proposed giving companies an income tax credit for cutting employees’ work hours from 40 to 32 a week without reducing their pay and benefits.

The bill’s sponsor, Del. Vaughn Stewart (D), told a legislative committee earlier this month that he was inspired by a study sponsored by 4 Day Week Global, a New Zealand-based advocacy group. The study found four-day weeks boosted worker wellbeing — as well as company revenues.

“This bill is meant to be a gentle nudge in the direction of doing this,” Stewart told the Economic Matters Committee, “because we think that doing this — according to all the research we do have available — represents a possible win-win-win for the state of Maryland.”

The bill would authorize the Maryland Department of Labor to issue up to $750,000 in overall income tax credit certificates each fiscal year from tax year 2023 until tax year 2027. Companies would have to reduce the workweeks of at least 30 employees to qualify. Each companies’ credits would be capped at $10,000, Stewart said at the hearing.

2. The Whole Foods punisher

Whole Foods Market stopped buying Maine lobster last year after seafood-monitoring groups lowered the crustacean’s sustainability rating. Since then, Republican lawmakers have hit back with a series of bills, including one that would stop companies that ban, boycott or restrict the sale of Maine products from taking advantage of two state business equipment tax credits.

“This is a war. It is not just about lobster fishing — it is a war on workers, family values, conservation, science and common sense,” House GOP leader Billy Bob Faulkingham, one of the bill’s sponsors and a commercial lobster fisherman, said in a statement when the proposal was announced.

Whole Foods has 500 locations worldwide, including one in Maine.

3. The Vegas, baby

Although Hawaii doesn’t allow gambling, plenty of Hawaii residents travel to try their luck at mainland casinos each year — particularly those in Las Vegas, or as it’s sometimes known, the “ninth island.”

Hawaii Sen. Stanley Chang (D) in January proposed banning ads for Nevada casinos and imposing a 30% tax on vacation packages that promote gambling. He proposed spending the money raised by the tax on gambling addiction programs.

“Hawaii is one of the few states with no state resources to treat problem gambling and gambling addiction,” Chang told the Las Vegas Review-Journal this month. “Given that this is such a serious societal problem, given that there are no funds going to it currently, we thought this would be one way to raise funds for this critical societal need.”

A reined-in version of Chang’s bill made it out of the Senate Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection two weeks ago. The latest version doesn’t include the advertising ban, leaves the proposed tax percentage blank, and makes the law’s effective date July 1, 2050.

Honorable mention: The “Yankee tax”

The South Carolina Senate is considering letting counties charge newcomers $250 to get a driver’s license and $250 to license and register their motor vehicle in the state. The bill got our attention because of its nickname: a “Yankee tax.”

“We’re not trying to build a wall across the North Carolina border,” said bill sponsor Sen. Stephen Goldfinch (R), according to the Associated Press. “But, at the same time, we think that people should have to pay their fair share when they show up.”

Under Goldfinch’s proposal, voters would first have to approve the higher fees, which would raise money for county infrastructure, schools and greenspace.