Poll suggests wide support for ‘millionaire’ tax proposal

Printed from: http://newbostonpost.com/2016/04/25/poll-suggests-wide-support-for-millionaire-tax-proposal/

BOSTON – More than three quarters of Boston residents polled said they would support a surtax on incomes of $1 million or more, assuming the revenue would be used to increase spending on transportation and education, according to survey results released Monday. But critics have pointed out that revenue raise by taxing income can’t be channeled into present spending categories.

The survey by WBUR-FM showed that 72 percent of respondents in Boston, Brookline, Cambridge and Somerville support the tax increase, compared with 24 percent who oppose it and 5 percent who were unsure or declined to answer. The survey involved 502 registered voters in the four communities earlier this month.

Lawmakers plan during a May 18 Constitutional Convention to debate the so-called millionaire’s tax, a citizen’s initiative (H 3933) that would apply a 4 percent surtax on incomes of $1 million or more, and would stipulate the money raised could only be spent on transportation and education. Senate President Stanley Rosenberg has repeatedly expressed support for the proposal and Speaker Robert DeLeo, the leader of the state House of Representatives, said last month he plans to vote in favor of it. Both are Democrats.

Critics say the proposal, even if it wins the support it needs in the Legislature and at the ballot box, is fundamentally flawed. Partly that’s because state law prevents earmarking general tax revenue for specific purposes – it all flows into the general fund and lawmakers decide how to spend it. Critics also warn that passage would open the way to replacing the Bay State’s current flat tax structure to a graduated form, where taxpayers at different income levels pay different rates.

Poll taker from the MassINC Polling Group asked respondents this question:

“There is a proposal which would raise the State income tax by 4 percentage points on people in Massachusetts who earn a million dollars or more each year. The money raised from this tax would go to fund education and transportation in Massachusetts.” The pollsters didn’t mention that the proposed revenue set-aside isn’t allowed under state law.

The surtax proposal had backing of a majority across all income breakdowns considered in the poll, ranging from 91 percent of respondents earning under $25,000 to 67 percent of those earning above $150,000, WBUR said. The earliest the proposed tax hike could take effect would be in 2019.

The poll, conducted for the nonprofit Boston University radio station, was focused on traffic in the Boston area, and most respondents said it seemed to them that traffic issues had grown around the city over the past five years.

Written by Katie Lannan