In other parts of the world, a single flush at a room of convenience elicits a sigh of relief to the user of the facility. However, to a resident of Maryland State in the US, whenever he or she lays their hand on the flush handle, pulls or presses the handle, the taxman comes to the picture. Since 2004, a normal toilet flush has never been the same for residents of Maryland State. It is the year the Maryland General Assembly endorsed introduction of a new tax which qualifies to be highlighted in this forum, the “flush tax”.
While there are stakeholders who will object whenever there are proposals for new taxes on commodities and services they actually consume, stakeholders in Maryland State had to contend with imposition of this tax on “products they no longer needed”. At the initial implementation stages of the flush tax, the concept was quiet a jigsaw to many residents for they did not understand why they were required to pay for something they no longer needed. To drive the point home, an apparently fed up official is reported to have summarized flush tax to some residents using what he called the principle of three Ps. For adherence to editorial standards observed in this publication, allow me to skip the first two ‘Ps’, which by the way are doing words, and jump over to the third ‘P’ which stands for ‘pay’. So the rude officer was reportedly quoted having summed up flush tax as, “You… (1st P), you… (2nd P), you pay!”
Flush tax is payable by all owners of buildings irrespective of whether their buildings use the public sewerage system or septic tanks. At inception, the owners were required to part with $30 per year as flush tax, payable to the Kanjo version of Maryland. Just like with most taxes, introduction of this tax was founded on some rationale aimed at improving the welfare of members of the public. According to Fox News (2015), the money generated from flush tax is meant to upgrade the State’s 67 sewage treatment plants to reduce the discharge of nitrogen and phosphorous. After realising that the proceeds from flush tax were not enough to upgrade all the treatment plants within the projected timeframes, the Maryland General Assembly passed a bill seeking to double the tax to $60 annually. This was passed in July 2012. Unlike most taxes, there are no exemptions as far as tax payment is concerned.
By David Gatiba