Council in the News
The Mass High Tech Council is warning Gov. Maura Healey that changes to the tax rebate law are unconstitutional. (Herald file photo)
The House has already headed down that road, but a memo authored at the request of the council says it’s a legal dead end.
The House’s over $56 billion spending plan for fiscal 2024 includes a provision that would change Chapter 62F of the General Laws, a previously unremarkable portion of the state’s tax codes which last year unexpectedly sent nearly $3 billion in excess tax takings back to residents.
Passed in 1986 through a ballot measure, changing the law via the Legislature would circumvent the expressed will of voters, according to the High Tech Council.
“The proposed change to Chapter 62F would not only alter a law that was approved by the voters, but it would also violate the state’s Constitution with a tax credit formula not authorized by the current flat-tax requirement. Given this concern, any tax reform bill which reaches the Governor’s desk and is signed into law should refrain from altering Section 6 of Chapter 62F,” High Tech Council President Chris Anderson said in a written statement.
The House’s unanimously passed spending proposal would change Chapter 62F by removing the language from the law which guarantees each time it is triggered and taxpayers reimbursed that all rebates are paid out according to the amount of taxes paid. As written, the budget would instead have any rebate evenly distributed to all state residents without regard to tax burden.
While they support some form of tax relief, in a letter to the governor and legislative leaders the Council said lawmakers will have to find another way to do it.
“The High Tech Council applauds the Governor and the House for pursuing significant tax relief for Massachusetts residents and employers and hopes the Senate will take up those reforms. However, given the significant constitutional concerns raised in the enclosed memo, any tax reform bill which reaches the Governor’s desk and is signed into law should refrain from altering Section 6 of Chapter 62F,” they wrote.
The High Tech Council reached their conclusion, they say, after consultation with Boston attorney Kevin Martin from the law firm Goodwin Procter.
“It is obvious from the face of the proposed amendment that it is ‘intended to tax the same class of income at different rates,’” he wrote in a legal memo. “The proposed amendment therefore would violate Article 44’s uniformity requirement.”