As Massachusetts voters have amended the state constitution to include a 4 percent surtax on taxable income over $1 million, MassBudget would like to offer policy suggestions to assist the Commonwealth in protecting this revenue and ensuring that it is directed to education and transportation, as specified in the amendment.
A letter to Governor-elect Healey and Lieutenant Governor-elect Driscoll on a consolidating different family tax supports into one simpler, fully refundable Family Tax Credit.
The 1986 tax cap law, also known as “62F,” artificially limits the amount of tax revenue available to address priorities like affordable, quality childcare, safer public transportation, and affordable housing. Moreover, there are flaws in the 62F law and its underlying formula. 62F tells a story about revenue in Massachusetts, but it is misleading.
Because the Fair Share surtax would apply a 4 percent surtax only to the portion of a household’s taxable income above $1 million, the total tax rate of the vast majority of Fair Share-affected filers would be much lower than the top rate of 9 percent.
Based on industry data from the Warren Group on home sales in Massachusetts, previous analysis has shown how rare it is that a sale might generate taxable capital gains of $1 million or more. But what does the data say about home sales that might have created taxable income over $1 million in 2021?
“One-time” occurrences of $1 million income are relatively rare overall, and in fact much rarer for the middle-class. It is far more common for tax filers who exceed $1 million in annual income to do so year over year. An examination of available data suggests that when a middle-class taxpayer sells their small business or home, they would be highly unlikely to have a taxable income over $1 million, the point at which additional income would be subject to the new proposed tax under ballot Question 1 (Fair Share).
Will small business owners be subject to the proposed Fair Share tax if and when they sell their businesses? Very unlikely.
The proposed “millionaire tax” only applies to the portion of a taxpayer’s annual taxable income over $1 million. For many retirees, much of their income is not subject to the income tax and therefore not subject to an additional tax on income over $1 million. And wealth, such as personal savings and investments, are not subject to the income tax. Even when wealth is sold to generate additional financial gains, this income is often tax-exempt or shielded by widely used deductions.
The $2.9 billion estimate of 62F “excess tax collections” recently certified by the State Auditor overstates these net Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 collections by $1.4 billion. The problem is not that the Auditor miscalculated but that the calculation as stipulated in the 62F statute fails to account for situations where taxes are received by the Commonwealth in one fiscal year, but corresponding, offsetting tax credits are not applied until the following fiscal year. This is one of the many fundamental flaws in the 1986 tax cap law (referred to as “62F”).
In the majority of Massachusetts cities and towns, no homes sold for a net gain of $1 million or more, meaning they wouldn’t be subject to any additional taxes under the Fair Share Amendment.