By Pat Warren

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Maryland’s legislative leaders say President Donald Trump’s big tax cut bill spells trouble for state taxpayers, and they’re working on a fix.

They’re calling it the “Taxpayer Protection Plan” to prevent Maryland residents from paying upwards of $1 billion in unintended tax increases.

House Speaker Mike Busch said in a news conference today said the work is underway.

“We’re going to flesh this out over the next 85 days to make sure Marylanders are protected in this system that’s been put upon them by the federal government,” Busch said.

Because the federal tax code eliminates personal exemptions, Marylanders stand to pay an additional $680 million in state and local taxes. To avoid that tax hike, lawmakers would uncouple the state from federal policy and allow exemptions on state returns that the federal bill does not.

“In other words,” said Senate President Mike Miller, “you’re going to continue to get the standard deduction, which they’re providing you under this [federal] bill — but unlike this [federal] bill, we’re going to give you on top of that the personal exemptions. Is there possibly a fairer way to return money to the people of Maryland?”

Gov. Larry Hogan says he had conversations about this with the president and the speaker last week about returning taxpayer dollars.

“The fact that they now agree with me that we’re going to protect taxpayers and keep them from getting that tax increase, I’m ready to throw a party,” Hogan said.

Busch says the work is underway.

“We are at the end of the session going to have a solution that’s going to benefit citizens of the state of Maryland,” he said.

Maryland will make use of federal expertise from Senator Ben Cardin’s office in crafting that bill. Two other bills in the plan allow the state to maintain its current rate on estate taxes, and to create a fund for tax-deductible contributions to education.

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