Boston Globe: Sen. Eldridge Makes the Case for Graduated MA Income Taxes

Excerpted from the Boston Globe.

JamieEldridge.jpgShould the state adopt a graduated income tax?


State senator James Eldridge, an Acton Democrat

Last week, I filed a constitutional amendment to create a graduated, or progressive income tax that would allow us to invest in our communities to ensure a quality public education for every child in Massachusetts, improve our transportation infrastructure, provide police and fire protection to keep our neighborhoods safe, and enhance public and individual health.

Unfortunately, our current tax system is not doing that. Local aid has been cut 40 percent compared to a decade ago, our state has hundreds of roads and bridges in disrepair while our public transportation system ages, many police and fire departments have laid off staff, and hospitals and medical clinics continue to close across the state.

Meanwhile, for 20 years state government has increased taxes on working families while cutting taxes on corporations, banks, and the wealthy. This approach is not working for most families in Massachusetts. Two decades after the progressive income tax was last considered, it’s time to have a full discussion on the proposal.

Currently, our Massachusetts Constitution only allows a flat income tax. This is how a flat tax is unfair to working families: on Jan. 1, an automatic tax cut went into effect, reducing the state income tax from 5.2% to 5.15%. According to the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, this tax cut will result in a tax cut of about $19 for households earning approximately $58,000 a year; those earning around $168,000 will get a tax cut of roughly $66; and someone in the top 1% earning about $2.4 million will see a tax savings of approximately $936. [see also figure 1, below]

In 2013, the Massachusetts Legislature established the Tax Fairness Commission, a 15-member bipartisan commission, which concluded the following in its report: "The overall tax system in Massachusetts is regressive, meaning middle and low-income taxpayers pay a larger share of their income in taxes than high income taxpayers.”

A progressive income tax would change this reality by empowering the public to create a fairer tax system that would reduce the tax burden on most working class and middle class families, while raising sufficient revenue to make the key investments in our communities that are long overdue.

To read the opposing argument, go to the full piece at the Boston Globe



Fig. 1




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