Massachusetts ‘Millionaires Tax’ Opponents Say State Government Is Taking In More Than Enough Already

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Should Massachusetts raise taxes on some of the state’s wealthier residents?

The Coalition to Stop the Tax Hike says not.

The organization hosted a press conference Wednesday, October 26 in opposition to the Fair Share Amendment. It’s Question 1 on the November 2022 Massachusetts general election ballot. It would establish a four-percentage-point surtax on income earned exceeding $1 million. That means that if someone made $2 million in one year, that person would pay a 5 percent state income tax on the first million and a 9 percent rate on the second million.

It would raise about $1.3 billion per year in revenue, according to a study conducted by Tufts University, and the funding is constitutionally dedicated to public education and transportation. 

A majority of Bay Staters currently support the measure, according to polls, but opponents laid out their arguments against it during the press conference.

That includes Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation president Eileen McAnneny, who said that she thinks millionaires already pay enough in taxes.

“The income tax rate is flat but our tax code is not, it’s highly progressive. And that’s because we have all kinds of provisions like the no-tax threshold, we have a refundable earned income tax credit, and a whole host of other things that ease the burden of lower-income taxpayers,” she said. “And currently, the top 20 percent of taxpayers pay 72 percent of all income tax collected in the commonwealth.”

Supporters of the millionaire’s tax point to a 2018 study from the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center that shows the lowest-income 20 percent paid 10 percent of their incomes in state and local taxes while the top one percent paid 6.8 percent of their incomes — the smallest portion paid by any group. 

“Right now, the richest 1 percent pay less of their income in state and local taxes than the rest of us do! Voters understand that the ultra-wealthy aren’t paying their fair share. The corporate lobbyists who oppose Question 1 agree that we need greater investments in transportation and public education. They’d just rather have the rest of us pay for it, instead of asking multi-millionaires and billionaires to do their part,” Andrew Farnitano, communications director for Fair Share Massachusetts, told WWLP.

Jon Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, said during the press conference that if the millionaire’s tax were about tax fairness, it would make sense to simultaneously reduce a regressive tax like the state sales tax from 6.25 percent to 5 percent. However, he said that the Fair Share Amendment supporters aren’t advocating for that. 

“The reaction from the proponents as well as from legislative leadership was not positive, which raised in my mind the question, were the proponents really looking for fair taxation or just more taxation?” Hurst said. “They clearly didn’t want to roll back the sales tax, which is by far the most regressive tax on the books, even far more regressive today because of inflation.”

Jim Rooney, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, also urged people to oppose the millionaire’s tax during the press conference.

He said that the state doesn’t need to spend more money on education and infrastructure. Instead, he thinks the state government needs to spend what it has more effectively.

“I would say is that when you look at spending on transportation and in education, we already rank among the highest,” Rooney said. “I think we’re one of the highest in cost per mile of highway, we’re very high on cost per pupil on the education side. So we’re taking this approach of what’s happened in the past, which is, ‘So let’s just get them more money to deal with these issues.’ I don’t think you or I or anyone on this call can say exactly, if they did get this money, what exactly they’re gonna do with it. What’s the output? What’s the improvement? I don’t know.”

Polling shows the Fair Share Amendment is favored to pass; 58 percent of voters plan to vote for it while 37 percent oppose it, according to a Suffolk University/NBC10 Boston poll released last week.


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