Tuesday, May 10, 2011


May 12 Hearing on Sales Tax

The following memo was sent today to members of the committee, every state representative and senator
at the State House, and to the media statewide.

To:  Members of the Joint Committee on Revenue
From:  Citizens of Limited Patience and Unlimited Institutional Memory

Citizens for Limited Taxation won’t be there. Not after last week’s hearing on the income tax hike, when we were first to sign the signup sheet and got to speak three hours later only after liberal legislators, liberal activists, liberal groups, liberal panels, and liberal dreamers who think they can get a graduated income tax one way or the other, and only after Chip Faulkner, the only attendee in opposition, interrupted with a point of order.

To be helpful: you might want to confer with previous Taxation Committee chairmen on how to run a fair hearing. To mention only two who are still there: Sen. Dick Moore and Rep. Angelo Scaccia, both of whom heard both sides of a controversial issue, often taking turns from pro-con sign-up sheets so members of the Committee could get a balanced picture. Rep. Scaccia sometimes set up a mini-debate, hearing a representative from both sides of an issue at the same time. (I think he did this to keep from being bored, but credit where it’s due….) This would be difficult to do, however, if the hearings don’t become more balanced and citizens who aren’t the favored liberals don’t bother to attend. We hope Rep. Kaufman does better next year on “comprehensive tax reform”.

However, Chip Faulkner reports that the time management was good, with the “wind-up” reminder cards. Another good former chairman, (John Businger, Steve Angelo?) used an egg-timer!

If more opponents of your long-desired graduated income tax had felt it would be worth their effort to attend, you might have learned that the SJC ruled in Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation vs. Secretary of Administration in 1986 that when increased exemptions show intent to effectively “tax the same class of income at different rates,” you can’t do them. Since advocates testified that the Chang-Diaz/O’Day bill is intended “to create a more fair and progressive tax system by asking the wealthy to pay more, etc.,” and were quoted in the media to this intent, we expect the SJC would adhere to its precedent if the bill passed.

Also, we are familiar with the ploy to offset rate hikes for lower-income taxpayers with increases in the personal exemption (when this has passed constitutional muster because the motivation was simply to keep up with inflation). Once the higher rates are in place, the personal exemption gets reduced again in the next tax hike package, and EVERYone’s taxes are higher.

We shall take this opportunity to once again thank Speaker DeLeo for his opposition to higher taxes, and to state our opposition to an online sales tax and our support for rolling back the present sales tax rate to its traditional 5 percent. Thank you for your attention. Maybe we’ll show up for another hearing someday if we learn that both sides are equally welcome.

Barbara Anderson

Citizens for Limited Taxation    PO Box 1147    Marblehead, MA 01945    508-915-3665