Maryland’s subsidies—administered by the Department of Commerce—are modest if numerous, though the state did pay Marriott International $44 million in 1999 and another $62 million in 2016 in response to the company’s (idle) threats to move its headquarters to Virginia.
Maryland is transparent about recipients but disclosures are bare and scattered. The Department of Commerce maintains an online database of subsidies called “Finance Tracker,” which allows for data to be downloaded in Excel, a documents library with annual reports for certain programs, and an interactive map of enterprise zones. The department also publishes annual incentives performance reports that also have recipient information. But overall, there is little information on job or wage outcomes.
The Department of Budget and Management publishes a tax expenditure report every two years that includes data that goes back four years, although no estimates are available for some tax breaks. The comptroller prepares the Annual Comprehensive Financial Reports (ACFRs) which contain tax abatements in accordance with Statement No. 77. Maryland’s localities generally report tax abatements, but school districts do not because they are component units of counties, even though they publish their own financial statements. Montgomery County, Maryland, is the only locality we know of that publishes annual tax expenditure reports.
What Maryland lacks in transparency is made up for by accountability. The annual incentive performance reports include economic impact analyses for numerous programs in addition to recipient disclosures. In 2012, the Tax Credit Evaluation Act was passed to establish a legislative process for regularly reviewing tax credits on variable cycles. Any new credit would be added to the evaluation schedule by the Department of Legislative Services.