By Bob Katzen
The House 30-126, rejected an amendment that would exempt the first $2 million of the value of a person’s estate from the state’s estate/death tax that a person is required to pay following their death before distribution to any beneficiary.
Under current law, only the first $1 million is exempt. Under the current $1 million threshold and under the proposed $2 million threshold, the tax on anything over the threshold is a graduated one that ranges from 0.8 percent to 16 percent. This tax applies to the entire estate value, not just the portion above the threshold. Most Republicans are against any such tax and coined the name “death tax” to imply that the government taxes you even after you die. Most Democrats support the tax and call it an “estate tax” to imply that this tax is only paid by the wealthy.
Amendment supporters said that in light of the rising value of houses, with the average home price more than $500,000, the $1 million threshold of this unfair regressive tax is too low and noted the federal tax exempts the first $12 million. They noted that Massachusetts is losing many residents, who move to Florida and other states where this tax does not even exist.
“Massachusetts has the most aggressive estate tax in the entire country,” said Paul Craney, Executive Director of the Mass Fiscal Alliance. “This tax is very unpopular in every state that still has it and many states are eliminating it completely. The estate tax drives people out of the state and even President Joe Biden’s home state of Delaware recently repealed it completely. Only the Massachusetts Legislature would be willing to keep the country’s most aggressive estate tax, which hurts our elderly population the most.”
Amendment opponents said that this proposed tax reduction is one of many that are included in a separate stand-alone piece of legislation filed by Gov. Charlie Baker. They argued the amendment is premature and that the House should not act on this or any other tax reduction piecemeal here in the state budget but rather should wait until the Revenue Committee holds public hearing on the governor’s package as a whole.
Reps. Nick Boldyga (R-Southwick), the sponsor of the amendment and Mark Cusack (D-Braintree), the main opponent of the amendment, did not respond to repeated requests from Beacon Hill Roll Call for a comment.
(A “Yes” vote is for exempting the first $2 million of the value of a person’s estate from the state’s estate/death tax. A “No” vote is against it)
Rep. Christine Barber No Rep. Mike Connolly No Rep. Erika Uyterhoeven No