The Eagle-Tribune
Lawrence, Mass.
Friday, December 15, 2000

Want to volunteer to pay more taxes?
By Nancy C. Rodriguez

No. It's not a joke.

If you really want to pay more than you owe, the less-government-is-more group, Citizens for Limited Taxation, wants to help you out.

The group, one of two major players behind last month's income tax rollback referendum, has filed a bill that would allow people to pay more than 5 percent in income tax rate if they so choose.

"We at CLT have a win-win philosophy," said Barbara Anderson, the group's executive director. "We want to help our opponents with an easy way to continue funding the state government at the level they deem fair.

"We've never told anybody they can't pay higher taxes. Everyone is certainly free to do that," she added.

Opponents of the ballot question had argued the rollback would not save much money for the average taxpayer, and would cut into $2.1 billion in state revenue used for education, roads and social services. Their arguments fell on deaf ears. Voters passed the ballot measure by a 59 percent to 41 percent margin, forcing the state to reduce the income tax rate to 5 percent over the next three years from its current 5.85 percent.

What the Citizens for Limited Taxation's bill would do is create a Voluntary Optional Tax Endowment (VOTE). It would provide for a checkoff on personal income tax forms and a new table in the state Department of Revenue's income tax Schedules and Instructions booklet. The table would calculate the difference between the decreasing income tax rate and the rate at which it would remain without passage of Question 4. The difference is the VOTE contribution.

The Department of Revenue would keep records of the number of taxpayers who elect to contribute to the VOTE and the amount of additional revenue it generates.

State Sen. JoAnn Sprague, R-Walpole, has filed the bill on behalf of the group.

Ms. Anderson said the idea for the bill grew out of debate experiences she and other Question 4 proponents had.

"The opponents of the rollback would say, 'I don't mind paying taxes. I'd be happy to pay more.' And I always say, 'Well pay more.'"

Ms. Anderson admits the group is being "a bit facetious" unveiling such a bill, but still thinks it is worthwhile.

"It's always worth trying to catch people in hypocrisy, but we are really serious about getting a discussion going on our point of view and the point of view of other organizations like TEAM (Tax Equity Alliance of Massachusetts)," she said.

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