By Bob Katzen

Governor Maura Healey told Poltico Playbook last week that she supports some tax cuts including raising the estate/death tax threshold from $1 million to $2 million and expanding the senior circuit breaker tax credit. She also said she is reviewing a proposal to reduce the short-term capital gains rate from 12 percent to 5 percent.

“Gov. Healey and Lt. Gov. Driscoll continue to have discussions with the Senate president and speaker and look forward to working together with the Legislature on efforts to make Massachusetts more affordable and support seniors, working families and small business owners during these challenging economic times,” Healey‘s press secretary Karissa Hand told Beacon Hill Roll Call. “The governor has previously supported raising the estate tax threshold and expanding the senior circuit breaker and rental deduction, and those remain under consideration.”

Beacon Hill Roll Call asked Senate President Spilka and House Speaker Ron Mariano whether they supported these tax cuts.

“Last session, the Senate president was proud to usher through the Senate a tax relief package that increased the child and dependent tax credit and earned income tax credit,” a spokesperson for Spilka told Beacon Hill Roll Call. “This package also provided additional relief to renters and seniors and made the state more competitive by addressing the estate tax. She looks forward to pursuing permanent progressive tax relief in this new session.”

“There is a consensus revenue hearing on January 24th,” Max Ratner, spokesperson for House Speaker Ron Mariano told Beacon Hill Roll Call. “Each tax cut proposal will be reviewed through the legislative process after the hearing, and when the Legislature can better understand the upcoming economic environment.”

The House last year defeated raising the estate/death tax threshold, expanding the senior circuit breaker tax credit and reducing the short-term capital gains rate.

At that time, some opponents said they simply oppose the tax reductions. Others said that they voted against each of the three tax reductions, proposed as amendments to the state budget, because they are all included in a separate stand-alone piece of legislation filed by Gov. Charlie Baker. They argued the amendments are 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 a public hearing on the governor’s package as a whole and sends it to the House for action. Baker’s tax package was held up and never reached the House.

“While it is slightly encouraging to see Gov. Healey see the value in lowering the country’s most aggressive estate tax, this proposed adjustment is still just a tweak of a deeply flawed system,” said Paul Craney, a spokesperson for MassFiscal. “Massachusetts would still end up having the country’s third most aggressive estate tax. This tweak may bring some temporary relief, but it will not stop the outward migration of taxpayers due to Question 1 and the estate tax. If Gov. Healey supported the full repeal of the estate tax, which many blue states are doing, MassFiscal would lavish praise to the new governor for adopting a policy that puts us in line to compete with 38 other states which don’t have an estate tax.”

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