Millionaire tax opponents file SJC action to prevent ‘misleading’ of voters
January 27, 2022
By: Erin Tiernan
Opponents of a so-called millionaire tax slated for the November ballot have filed a complaint with the state’s highest court over potentially “misleading” language state election officials might use to sway voters.
“Here is the bottom line,” Massachusetts High Tech Council President Chris Anderson said. “On five previous occasions, Massachusetts citizens have considered ballot initiatives that would empower the Legislature to establish a graduated income tax and the citizens rejected all five. This sixth attempt should not mislead voters through an unfair and inaccurate summary into believing that the Amendment will guarantee additional funding for either transportation or education.”
Anderson and a mix of 54 state representatives, business groups and government finance watchdogs want to compel election officials to inform voters that the money raised by the surtax would not be restricted to use for transportation and education — as supporters claim.
The complaint requests the SJC order that ballot materials tell voters that “the Legislature could choose to reduce funding on education and transportation from other sources and replace it with the new surtax revenue because the proposed amendment does not require otherwise.”
The proposal is expected to generate about $1.3 billion annually, according to recent studies.
Reps. Nick Boldyga, David DeCoste, Colleen Garry and Marc Lombardo; Christopher Carlozzi of the Massachusetts chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business, Paul Craney of Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, Jim Stergios of the Pioneer Institute and Eileen McAnneny of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, also signed onto the complaint that names election officials Attorney General Maura Healey and Secretary of State William Galvin as defendants in their elected capacities.
Healey has yet to release a summary of the proposal that would add a 4% surtax on all income over $1 million. Currently, all income is taxed at a flat 5% rate, the wealth tax means any household income above that first $1 million would be taxed at an effective rate of 9%.
While state law only requires the secretary of state officially publish summaries by the second Wednesday of May, the Supreme Judicial Court has previously asked that the attorney general’s office make them available by Feb. 1 to avoid “a mad scramble” of trying to resolve challenges before voter information booklets are sent to the printer, often in July.
Opponents maintain they “had no choice but to ask the SJC to exercise its authority to require a fair, accurate description” of the millionaire tax proposal be provided to voters and printed on the November ballot with no such summary yet available and Feb. 1 fast approaching.