Millionaire Tax Wrong Way to Play Robin Hood

The millionaire tax is a brilliantly marketed bad idea.  It’s hard not to find appeal in the concept of higher taxes on top earners when income disparity has grown dramatically in recent years.  An additional boost to that feeling comes from the new federal tax bill calculated to benefit plutocrats and further aggravate disparity.  Federal tax rates are still progressive but the richest will pay less on their U.S. returns so why not make them pay more to the Commonwealth?  Equally appealing is the requirement that revenue generated by the new millionaire tax must be spent on public education and transportation.

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Op-Ed: Tax-and-Spend Plan Unconstitutional – Ballot Measure Would Upend State Budget Process

By William Weld

Not so long ago, this commonwealth was universally known as “Taxachusetts.” It was not a term of affection.

The state’s unemployment rate was about 10 percent — the highest of all the 11 industrial states. The secretary of Administration and Finance publicly stated that Massachusetts was “bankrupt.”

In many cities and towns, every third storefront was boarded up. On streets near the state borders, there was a “for sale” sign on virtually every other house.

The year was 1990, the year that Paul Cellucci and I were narrowly elected as governor and lieutenant governor.

The first thing we did was to repeal a recently enacted sales tax on services. During my two terms, we cut taxes 20 more times, and never raised them. Continue reading

Massachusetts High-Tech Business Group: Major Clean Energy Deals Should Be Affordable

By Mary C. Serreze

As Massachusetts prepares to import large amounts of renewable energy, a technology-centered business group is emphasizing that any long-term clean power contracts sanctioned by the state should be affordable.

On Thursday, the Massachusetts High Technology Council wrote to Department of Energy Resources commissioner Judith Judson, saying the DOER should prioritize ratepayer impacts as it considers a slew of competing transmission projects under the Massachusetts Clean Energy RFP, a competitive solicitation for low-carbon electricity.

“Make no mistake, cost matters,” wrote council president Christopher R. Anderson.  “We support the Commonwealth’s efforts to be a national leader in renewable energy, but we must all be mindful of the impact energy costs have on job creation and our reputation as a leader in the innovation economy.” Continue reading

Tech Council Urges Attention to Clean Energy Costs, Economic Impacts

By Katie Lannan

Cost to ratepayers should be the top priority for state officials weighing clean energy projects, the Massachusetts High Technology Council said Thursday.

In a letter to Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Judith Judson, the council cited the state’s comparatively high electricity costs and urged “the strongest of consideration” for potential economic impacts.

“As regulators deliberate on the best project for Massachusetts’ clean energy future, strong consideration must be given to the impacts on our ability to meet the needs of our growing economy,” council President Christopher Anderson said in a statement. “Make no mistake, cost matters. We support the Commonwealth’s efforts to be a national leader in renewable energy, but we must all be mindful of the impact energy costs have on job creation and our reputation as a leader in the innovation economy.” Continue reading

If the SJC Sticks to Precedent, the Millionaire’s Tax Initiative is Going Nowhere

By Jeff Jacoby

Some things Massachusetts gets right.

For 101 years the state constitution has commanded that income be taxed at a uniform rate, a shield against populist agitators whipping up class envy to raise taxes.  The constitutional ban on graduated income-tax rates keeps the Legislature from raising revenue at will by targeting one bracket at a time.  Lawmakers have to change everybody’s tax rate — or nobody’s.

A ballot initiative now being pushed by a left-wing umbrella group would change all that.  Raise Up Massachusetts wants to amend the constitution by requiring a sharp increase in the tax rate for income over $1 million.  The activists know that the state’s voters have repeatedly rejected initiatives to eliminate the state’s uniform-rate rule.  So this time there’s a sweetener: The proposed amendment decrees that all revenue raised from the new tax may be expended for only two purposes — public education and public transportation.  Unfortunately for Raise Up Massachusetts, their sweetened ballot question is illegitimate. Continue reading

Business Groups Fight ’18 Ballot Question

By Bob McGovern

Business groups fighting to block the so-called millionaire tax from next year’s statewide ballot say the proposed constitutional amendment is “truly radical” and should not go to the voters, according to a brief filed with the state’s highest court.

“Plaintiffs bring this lawsuit to exclude from the 2018 ballot an initiative petition that threatens to undermine our representative system of government and our separation of powers, and the long-standing consensus that the Legislature must maintain ultimate control over public finances,” wrote Kevin Martin, an attorney representing the businesses. Continue reading

Editorial: Three Legal Strikes

By Editorial Staff

It’s easy to complain that the proposed “millionaire’s tax” set to go before Massachusetts voters next year is just a cynical effort to squeeze the wealthy to fund more government jobs.  Easy, because it happens to be true.

But it’s even more worrisome to consider, as the plaintiffs in a pending lawsuit charge, that the initiative “threatens to undermine our representative system of government and our separation of powers, and the long-standing consensus that the Legislature must maintain ultimate control over public finances.”

And if that sounds like a big deal, that’s because it is. Continue reading

Income Surtax Opponents Call Proposal “Truly Radical”

By Andy Metzger

A proposed constitutional amendment that roughly 70 percent of Bay State lawmakers voted to put before voters is “truly radical,” a group of business representatives told the state’s highest court in a brief filed Monday.

Christopher Anderson, the president of the Massachusetts High Technology Council, and others have appealed to the Supreme Judicial Court to block from the 2018 ballot the proposal to impose a 4 percent surtax on incomes over $1 million to fund transportation and education programs. Continue reading

Massachusetts to Offer Tax Credits for Small Businesses that Hire Veterans

By Shira Schoenberg

“Certification through the New England Tech Vets program shows that a company is not just saying they are veteran friendly.  It shows they are taking concrete steps to better engage and retain veteran employees,” said retired Navy Rear Admiral Clarke Orzalli who helped design the program, in a statement.

Massachusetts is launching a new tax credit program that will be available to small businesses that hire veterans.

The credit was included in this year’s budget, but businesses will only be able to start the process of becoming eligible for it on Dec. 1.

To get the tax credit, representatives of the businesses will have to undergo an online training program to ensure they are aware of the particular issues facing veteran employees.  This will include training related to recruitment, social support and recognizing how wartime experiences affect the workplace.

The Massachusetts High Technology Council, together with military and education-related organizations, has developed the first certified training program called “New England Tech Vets Veteran Ready Employer Education and Certification Program.”  The program will be offered for free. Continue reading

Study: Proposition 80 Would Give MA 2nd Highest Combined State & Federal Capital Gains Tax Rate in U.S.

By Editorial Staff

If voters approve Proposition 80, scheduled to appear on the statewide ballot next year, Massachusetts’ top capital gains tax rate would go from 30th highest in the nation to fourth and the commonwealth’s highest combined state and federal rate would move from 25th to second, according to a new policy brief published by Pioneer Institute.

“Proposition 80 would have an outsized impact on capital gains,” said Greg Sullivan, the author of “Back to Taxachusetts Series: Capital Gains.”  “And one of the few things most economists agree on is that keeping taxes on investment low is critical to economic growth, job creation, and rising wages.”

The ballot initiative would put an additional 4 percent surtax on any annual income over $1 million. Continue reading