By Chip Faulkner – CLT
You may think Halloween is scary, but there is something even scarier looming for Massachusetts: the Graduated Income Tax (Grad Tax) is coming back from the dead. Yes, the Grad Tax which was defeated at the ballot box in 1962, 1968, 1972, 1976 and 1994 is raising its hoary head again. Of course, the usual suspects that have supported the failed Grad Tax in the past will once again be the vampires feasting off the blood of beleaguered taxpayers. We expect the Massachusetts Teachers Association, the public sector unions, the liberal church groups and welfare advocates to be pushing for passage of this fiscal atrocity.
This initiative petition for an amendment to the Constitution of the Commonwealth would do the following: Place an additional tax of 4% on taxable income in excess of one million dollars. The state income tax rate would jump from 5.15 to 9.15% for this one group of people. If advocates get the right to tax millionaires at a different rate, then they will gradually go after the rest of us – make no mistake. Once they get the constitutional right to tax one group differently, it’s only a matter of time before they go after taxpayers in the lower tax brackets – all the way down the line.
Let’s talk about trick or treat.
The alleged treat: that the extra revenue will supposedly go to public education, public colleges and the repair and maintenance of roads, bridges, and public transportation.
Only it won’t go to these areas.
The actual trick: Article 48 of the Massachusetts State Constitution prohibits certain subjects from appearing on the ballot. An appropriation of money is one of them. That’s why the supporters of this ballot question inserted the language “subject to appropriation.” In other words, any extra revenue will disappear into the general fund. There’s a prime example of the chicanery associated with this money grab. In the late 1980s the Legislature raised the gas tax from 11 to 21 cents. During the course of the debate and eventual implementation of the tax, supporters had assured everyone that the extra revenue would go to the roads and highways. Only it didn’t. In the first several months of the gas tax hike the state took in about 130 million dollars in extra revenue. Over 90% of the money raised went into that giant maw known as the general fund. Only a few million ever went for its intended purpose. In fact, AAA magazine wrote a scathing editorial at that time blasting the duplicity.
The process has already started to eventually get this question before the voters. Over 100,000 raw signatures have to be collected this fall. Then, because it’s a constitutional amendment, the Grad Tax proposal must get at least 25% of the vote in two consecutive legislative sessions before it can appear on the 2018 ballot. Therefore, the taxpayers have plenty of time to gather pitchforks and burning torches to drive the monster from our midst.
A bit of history: Citizens for Limited Taxation exists because of the Grad Tax. When the question was on the ballots in 1972 and 1976, a West Roxbury businessman named Edward F. King led the charge in opposing the tax. By the mid 1970s he thought there was a need for a permanent organization to fight future tax hike proposals in this tax happy state. Lo and behold, Citizens for Limited Taxation was formed then with Don Feder as its first executive director.
Chip Faulkner is the
Associate Director of CLT
and runs the CLT PAC.
Visit the CLT website at cltg.org.
For 41 years Citizens for Limited Taxation has been “The Voice of Massachusetts Taxpayers”— and their Institutional Memory.
Citizens for Limited Taxation
PO Box 1147
Marblehead, MA 01945