CLT Update
Tuesday, July 31, 2001

Carla Howell to launch petition drive
to abolish state income tax

"If Massachusetts voters get a chance to abolish the income tax, there will be a din the likes of which this state has never known....

"Ready or not, the mother of all ballot fights is about to begin."

Jeff Jacoby
Abolishing income tax is feasible
The Boston Globe
Jul. 31, 2001

It looks like CLT is about to lose the title of "tax-cut terrorists" assigned to us by our perennial opponents, TEAM (Tax Everything And More), the Mass. Teachers Association, and the rest of the Gimme Lobby. We'll now just have to settle for "tax-relief moderates."

Today Carla Howell and other Libertarians will file a proposed initiative petition to abolish the state income tax, completely!

The Gimme Lobby -- upset over our little rollback last year from 5.85 to 5 percent phased in over three years -- is about to go eye-bulging apoplectic.

Considering that they're about to file two petitions of their own -- one to raise the minimum wage from the currently highest in the nation at $6.75, to $7.00 then index it to inflation; the other to provide paid family leave by forcing employers to contribute $20 per-year per-employee into another bigger-government slush fund that'll never be big enough -- they are going to have their hands full.

This will be real fun to watch!

Chip Ford

PS. Anyone interested in helping to collect signatures or working on this initiative can contact its sponsors and volunteer through Carla Howell's website.

The Boston Globe
Tuesday, July 31, 2001

Abolishing income tax is feasible
By Jeff Jacoby
Globe Staff

Today, taking the first step toward what could be the most momentous ballot fight in Massachusetts history, a group of small-government activists led by two-time Libertarian Party candidate Carla Howell will file an initiative petition to abolish the state's personal income tax. If the attorney general approves the language and if the petitioners collect the necessary signatures, the measure will be on the state ballot in 2002.

Fasten your seat belts. We may be in for a wild ride.

If Massachusetts voters get a chance to abolish the income tax, there will be a din the likes of which this state has never known. Every special interest that sups at the public trough will howl with fury, warning that an end to the income tax will mean an end to civilization as we know it. The schools will shut down, they will moan. The sick will die. The courts will collapse. Bridges will buckle, the unemployed will go hungry, and every city and town will sink into fiscal chaos. They will say, in short, that the loss of its income tax will leave Massachusetts starved and disgraced. How can Carla Howell possibly defend that?

Howell is the articulate Libertarian who challenged Ted Kennedy in the US Senate race last year and drew 12 percent of the vote, nearly tying the Republican candidate, who got 13 percent. It was a notable achievement for a third-party candidate, especially one whose philosophy of minimal government flies in the face of everything that liberal Taxachusetts is supposed to favor.

Still, 12 percent is only 12 percent. Massachusetts voters may have cut their taxes last November and voted Republican in the last three gubernatorial elections, but it isn't exactly obvious that they want to shrink state government radically. Howell and others who advocate an end to the income tax will be fighting an uphill battle. Voters will be skeptical. Opponents will be well-funded. Republican politicians no less than Democratic ones will rush to defend the status quo. The media will trumpet the horrors awaiting Massachusetts if the income tax goes by the boards. It won't be an easy sell.

Even for those of us who consider taxation little better than legalized theft, there is no denying that wiping out the income tax would take its toll on state government. In 2000, the income tax generated more than $9 billion for the treasury -- 57 percent of the state's total tax revenue of $15.7 billion. It funded almost 41 percent of the state's $22 billion operating budget. Critics will demand to know how Massachusetts could survive without it. Will Howell have an answer?

Of course she will.

For a start, she can point out that seven states already manage without an income tax: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming. Two others, New Hampshire and Tennessee, tax only dividends and interest. Beacon Hill may be addicted to income tax revenues, but addictions aren't healthy. And as countless ex-smokers, ex-gamblers, and ex-drinkers can testify, it is a blessing to overcome them.

No doubt Howell will make the point that state government spends so much money because it has it, not because it needs it. The dollars gush in, so many in recent years that the state literally hasn't been able to spend them fast enough: Even with a budget racing far ahead of inflation, Beacon Hill kept winding up with nine- and 10-figure surpluses. And that doesn't count the billions stashed away, unused, in various rainy day and insurance funds. Or the state's $7 billion share of the tobacco settlement.

Deleting the income tax from the state's fiscal calculations would not roll us back to the 19th century. It would roll us back to 1991. Do the math: Subtract $9 billion of income tax revenues from this year's $22 billion budget and you are left with $13 billion. That was roughly the size of the state's budget (in unadjusted dollars) when Michael Dukakis left office. Many things have been said of Dukakis, but no one ever accused him of cutting government to the bone. At $13 billion, state government was big, powerful, intrusive, and top-heavy. Restored to $13 billion, it would still be far from Spartan.

But it will certainly be smaller. And that, say Howell and her fellow petitioners -- who are organized as the Committee for Small Government -- is the point.

"Making state government small will make people's lives better and happier," she told me yesterday. "$9 billion less for the state means $9 billion more for voters to spend on their priorities: their kids' education, their churches, their retirement. It means $9 billion more for the Massachusetts economy -- and that means new businesses, new opportunities, new jobs."

Ready or not, the mother of all ballot fights is about to begin. Better buckle up.

Jeff Jacoby's e-mail address is

The following information is from Libertarian Carla Howell's website.

What is the Small Government Act to End the Income Tax?

The Small Government Act to End the Income Tax is a ballot question that will be put before the voters in November 2002 -- assuming we collect enough signatures to get on the ballot. If it passes, it will repeal all Massachusetts state taxes on wages, passive income (interest and dividends) and capital gains.

When we pass the Small Government Act to End the Income Tax:

Your family will save an average of over $2,000 in taxes every year. Money you'll be able to keep to spend on your family, your retirement, for your favorite church or charity -- in your own community.

You will no longer pay the 5+% income tax on wages.

If you're retired and living on annuity income, you will no longer pay 5+% tax on interest or dividends that you need to make ends meet.

If you earn stock options that you never even cashed in and that lost market value, you will no longer pay up to 12% capital gains on income you never even saw.

Best of all, there will be $9 billion less that the state government can waste, misspend, hand out in pork-barrel projects, or use for Big Government Programs that fail and that make things worse.

Does ending the income tax go far enough?

Massachusetts state budget for fiscal year 2001 .... $23 billion

Income taxes collected in 2000 .... $9 billion

Money left after we end the income tax .... $14 billion

Massachusetts state budget for FY (fiscal year) 1991* .... $10 billion

How much more $ the state will still tax us after we end the income tax in 2003
than it taxed us in 1991 .... $4 billion

* FY 1991 was the last budget signed into law by Big Government Governor Michael Dukakis. Before Big Government Republican Governors took over.

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