To: Members of the Senate
May 21, 2008
Re: Income tax rate: Let’s get rolling
In 1989 Governor Dukakis, after running for
President of the United States on the "Massachusetts Miracle,"
returned from the campaign trail to demand the Legislature pass a
billion dollar tax increase. Angry legislative Democrats who had
been misled about state revenues revolted, and joined with
Republicans in refusing to pass the tax hike. In the end, most
Democrats gave in, but only after they could assure their even
angrier constituents that the income tax rate increase would be
After waiting eleven years for this promise to be kept, CLT put a
question on the ballot, phasing down the rate from 5.85 percent to
its traditional 5 percent over three years. The question passed
59-41 percent. But in 2002, the Legislature “froze” the rate at 5.3
percent with the promise to slowly lower it sometime in the future.
That November, voters almost passed Carla Howell’s total repeal of
the income tax.
Six years later, the rate is still 5.3 percent, though the formula
created in 2002 may drop it to 5.25 this year. It’s a tiny step for
taxpayers, who should have been paying at 5 percent since 2003. I
figure that the state owes me roughly $500. Since state revenues are
$1.2 billion higher than last year, you could take a giant step and
surprise everyone by finally keeping that 1989 legislative promise
and doing what the voters demanded in 2000.
Perhaps the taxpayers who still haven’t received the “property tax
relief” that Governor Patrick promised could use their share of the
rollback for property tax relief!
Barbara Anderson --