Grant Williams Leaves Boston Celtics Partly Over Massachusetts Millionaires Tax

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The new Massachusetts surtax on incomes over $1 million played a role in power forward Grant Williams’s decision to turn down an offer from the Boston Celtics, leading the team to trade him.

Williams, 24, was an important part of the Celtics’ plans for next season. But he turned down a four-year, $48 million offer from the Celtics — partly because the state’s new 4 percent surtax on million-dollar-plus incomes made the offer worth considerably less than the offer he got from the Dallas Mavericks, a team that plays in Texas, which has no state income tax.

Massachusetts has a 5 percent state income tax for most earners. The state also taxes individual income exceeding $1 million an extra 4 percent.

The Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, which opposed the Millionaires Tax referendum that state voters approved in November 2022, highlighted Williams’s decision as a reason why the 4 percent surtax is a bad idea.

“Surtax proponents specifically told us things like this wouldn’t happen. That was clearly a lie. However you feel about Grant Williams, the Boston Celtics, or Boston sports in general, it would be hard to argue that the successes of our local teams don’t have a huge impact on our state economy. Grant Williams just gave us a concrete example of how our state’s new tax code is making it more difficult to compete in Massachusetts,” said Paul D. Craney, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, in a written statement Friday, July 7.

Craney said the tax, which took effect January 1, 2023, is having a bad effect on Massachusetts.

“There are people at companies making decisions like this every day. There are small business owners and retirees doing the math out and coming to similar conclusions. We already have the numbers on outmigration, and we’ve seen hundreds of thousands of people leave in the past few years. We still haven’t made up the ground we lost with the massive revenue cliff we hit in April. Massachusetts cannot afford to continue to be hostile to success,” Craney said in the written statement.

Supporters of the Millionaires Tax say million-dollar earners can well afford the extra tax hit and that the state needs the extra tax revenue for public education and public transportation.

Opponents of the Millionaires Tax say a flat tax is fairer, that the state government doesn’t need more money, and that the tax will hurt the state’s economy by driving high earners elsewhere.


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