Free Money – Big Deficits

Relief Rebates Would Flow To 2 Million in Mass.

By Chris Lisinski
State House News Service

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, JULY 7, 2022…..House Democrats estimate their new tax rebate plan would help more than 2 million Massachusetts residents, and the half billion-dollar program might only represent an opening salvo of tax relief proposals.

The program legislative leaders placed on the table Thursday would offer one-time, $250 payments to middle-income taxpayers across the state, a move lawmakers pitched as a more targeted way to relieve the pressure of crushing inflation and soaring gas prices than temporarily lifting the state’s gas tax.

House Speaker Ronald Mariano and his top deputies said they expect the proposal would steer rebates to more than 2 million taxpayers with a total cost of about $510 million. That price tag appears likely to bite off only a portion of a historic surplus, which one group estimated last week will total $3.6 billion by the time all the numbers are finalized.

Like their counterparts in the Senate, top House Democrats said Thursday they have not ruled out other tax relief measures that Gov. Charlie Baker and others have pushed for months. Still, with lawmakers adding to their to-do list faster than they cross items off it and only 24 days left to get a bill to the governor’s desk, they declined to offer any specifics about what else their tax plan would feature.

“Everything is on the table, and until we quantify it, I think that I wouldn’t want to start making guesses about what’s going to be in that,” Mariano replied when pushed for examples of other tax changes he has in mind.

The latest proposal, which top House and Senate lawmakers announced with a three-paragraph joint statement earlier on Thursday, would offer one-time rebates of $250 to eligible individual taxpayers and $500 to married taxpayers who filed jointly.

To qualify, individual filers must have reported between $38,000 and $100,000 in income in 2021, while married joint filers must have reported an annual income between $38,000 and $150,000 last year.

Lawmakers expect the rebates would be issued to qualifying taxpayers by Sept. 30.

The income floor attached to the plan would effectively block the state’s lowest earners from receiving the one-time payments.

“This proposal EXCLUDES the state’s lowest-income residents. That’s it. That’s the tweet,” Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center President Marie-Frances Rivera tweeted after Democrats announced the measure.

Mariano said Democrats felt they already steered assistance toward Bay Staters on the bottom rung of the income ladder with a pandemic-era premium pay program, which sent $500 checks to workers who earned between $13,500 and roughly $38,600 in 2021 and did not received unemployment benefits in that span.

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