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Advocacy groups urge passage of Baker’s tax cut plan

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  During a recent event marking Tax Day at the State House, several organizations urged passage of the Baker-Polito Administration’s comprehensive tax relief plan. The Administration’s proposal would provide $700 million in tax relief for low-income residents, working families, renters and seniors and would make Massachusetts more competitive. With costs for families rising across the board and the Commonwealth continuing to exceed tax revenue projections, the group urged that it is time to give taxpayers a break and pass the Administration’s proposal.

  “With residents and families continuing to face rising costs, Massachusetts should take action and pass tax cuts that will reduce costs and give taxpayers a break,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Revenues continue to exceed expectations, so it’s time to give some of this surplus revenue back to taxpayers. We look forward to working with our partners in the Legislature to put more money into the pockets of our hard-working families and residents.”

  “Inflation and rising prices are impacting everyone in Massachusetts, but especially low-income residents and working families,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “That’s why this tax plan is so important: it targets tax relief to the populations and communities who have been hardest-hit by both the pandemic and the ongoing pressures of inflation and rising prices.”

  “The Commonwealth is in a historically strong fiscal position and has ample resources to continue investing in critical areas of need – like childcare, education, housing, and more – while also implementing these tax relief measures,” said Secretary of Administration and Finance Michael Heffernan. “The proposed tax plan will benefit hundreds of thousands of hardworking taxpayers and improve our competitiveness as a state to help ensure the continued strength of our economy in the long-term.”

  The Commonwealth continues to face a strong fiscal picture and ended last fiscal year with a $5 billion surplus. Tax revenues in the first months of calendar year 2022 continue to exceed projections. Revenues beat projections by $856 million in January, by $293 million in February and by $427 million in March.

  “MTF’s mission is about fiscal stability for the Commonwealth and positioning Massachusetts for long-term economic growth and opportunity for all,” said Eileen McAnneny, President of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. “The Baker Administration’s tax package achieves both and that is why it has MTF’s full support. Not only is it affordable, but it provides relief to our residents while signaling that Massachusetts is choosing to compete for the people and talent that are so critical to our future economic vitality.”

  “On behalf of 11,000 CPAs and accounting professionals across Massachusetts, I want to commend Governor Baker and the Administration for filing this comprehensive and timely tax relief package,” said MassCPAs President and CEO Amy Pitter. “We’re specifically grateful for the inclusion of a provision to update the conformity date for individual income tax purposes from 2005 to 2022. Massachusetts conforms to the 2005 IRC, but most states conform to the 2021 IRC, which makes us more outdated than any other state by a landslide. There is no economic or tax policy reason for Massachusetts not to update its conformity date. This low cost and necessary update will provide consistency and simplicity for Massachusetts taxpayers and streamline tax administration at the Department of Revenue and we look forward to working with the governor, his team and the legislature on this critical change, which we’re thankful was also included in the House Ways and Means budget proposal.”

  “Small businesses and working families are being severely hit with the regressive effect of inflation, yet tax revenues have never been better,” said Jon Hurst of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts.  “The governor’s tax reforms recognize that taxpayers and consumers of all stages of life need fair treatment from the government; and as a complete package, it will make it more affordable and competitive to stay in Massachusetts.”

  “State revenue collections have far exceeded expectations for the second year in a row,” said John Regan, president and CEO of Associated Industries of Massachusetts. “The Commonwealth should return a portion of that windfall to assist taxpayers burdened by inflation and to stimulate the economy. Governor Baker’s plan spreads the relief throughout the economy and is an equitable tax proposal.”

  “These targeted tax proposals will help create a more competitive tax environment in ways that matter for residents and small businesses,” said James Rooney, president and CEO of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. “The nationwide race for talent and employers is at an all time high and Massachusetts needs to be proactive in its efforts to retain our world class workforce, employers, and economy.”

  “AARP strongly urges action now,” said Michael Festa, director of AARP Massachusetts. “Measures such as tax credits and other financial assistance, or both, to Massachusetts 844,000 family caregivers; doubling the maximum Senior Circuit Breaker Credit; and increasing the rental deduction cap help lower and middle-income residents and their families achieve increased health and financial security and facilitate their ability to age in their own home and community.”

  The plan includes several tax relief measures:

  • Double the maximum Senior Circuit Breaker Credit to lower the overall tax burden for more than 100,000 lower-income homeowners ages 65 and older
  • Increase the rental deduction cap from $3,000 to $5,000, allowing approximately 881,000 Massachusetts renters to keep approximately $77 million more annually
  • Double the dependent care credit to $480 for one qualifying individual and $960 for two or more, and double the household dependent care credit to $360 for one qualifying individual and $720 for two or more to benefit more than 700,000 families
  • Increase the Massachusetts adjusted gross income thresholds for “no tax status” to $12,400 for single filers, $24,800 for joint filers, and $18,650 for head of households, which will eliminate the income tax for more than 234,000 low-income filers
  • Double the estate tax threshold and eliminate the current “cliff effect” that taxes the full amount below the threshold
  • Change the short-term capital gains tax rate to the personal income tax rate of five percent to align the Commonwealth with most other states

  The plan would have an outsized impact on the communities hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, the rental deduction increase would provide $34 million in annual tax relief to renters in the 20 “equity communities” that the Department of Public Health identified as having been hardest-hit by the pandemic (based on factors like social determinants of health and the disproportionate racial impact of the pandemic). The “no tax status” change to eliminate the income tax for more low-income people would result in nearly $12 million in annual savings in those same communities.

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