AUGUSTA – Responding to Gov. Paul LePage’s observation that “people pay taxes, eagles don’t,” Rep. Emily Cain (D-Orono) submitted a bill yesterday that would require all birds of prey to submit annual tax returns, just like the rest of us.
“I know a lot of Mainers, not just the governor, are concerned that a bald eagle’s nest can stand in the way of development and progress,” said Cain, “particularly if that eagle is not paying its fair share of taxes. This bill, I think, will correct this injustice.”
If LD 1769.74 passes as written, all eagles, hawks, and owls would send 6% of their captured prey to Maine Revenue Services, starting in 2014. Any such bird failing to pay this tax will have its nest removed to make way for a highway project.
Maine Audobon Society members condemned the bill. “No government can serve only those who pay taxes,” said John Clewt, a wildlife biologist from Ellsworth. “Children don’t pay taxes, nor do rivers and billionaires. But the rest of us have an interest to see these things thrive, so we expect the government to protect them. Eagles are no different.”
In response to these criticisms, Cain said her staff is already working to craft legislation that would levy a 3% tax on lunch money earnings, though imaginary friends and stuffed animals may still be counted as dependents.