By Bob Katzen
The House 26-128, rejected an amendment that would change the current law (known as 62F), approved by voters on the 1986 ballot, that requires that annual tax revenue above a certain amount collected by the state go back to the taxpayers.
A few months ago, the law resulted in $2.9 billion being returned to taxpayers, using a formula based on how much each taxpayer paid in income taxes in 2021.
In the House $1 billion tax reduction bill, the formula is changed so that each taxpayer will receive a flat rate refund, unrelated to what they paid in taxes. The amendment would strike the change and revert back to the refund based on what a person paid in income taxes in 2021.
“The Legislature needs to respect the will of the voters, and that means keeping the existing Chapter 62F tax law in place,” said sponsor GOP House Minority Leader Rep. Brad Jones (R-North Reading). “If we really want to change the law, we should not act unilaterally, but instead should hold public hearings to solicit input from the state’s taxpayers or put it before the voters again as a statewide ballot question to see whether there is actual public support for making those changes.”
Opponents of the income-based amendment said the flat rate refund would ensure everyone in the state, regardless of income, will share equally in the state’s economic success.
“This is a representative democracy, not a direct democracy,” said Rep. Sarah Peake (D-Provincetown). “Yes, there are some ballot initiatives, things that go on the ballot that come to us. And [as] often as not, we make tweaks to those ballot initiatives and change them after they are voted on by the people to make them better legislation. What recently comes to mind is the legislation and the ballot initiative that legalized the sale of cannabis in the commonwealth of Massachusetts. What appeared on the ballot is not what appears in our statute books today, so this isn’t some outlier. This is the common practice.”
Massachusetts Republican Party Chair Amy Carnevale said the flat rate refund changes the 1986 law from a refund into a government handout. “Instead of taxpayers getting a percentage based on what they paid to the state, the Democrats want to send just a flat rate check to everyone. It is a redistribution of wealth. It is not fair. Your refund should be based on what you pay.”
(A “Yes” vote is for the amendment distributing the refund based on what each taxpayer paid in taxes. A “No” vote is against the amendment and favors a flat rate refund of the same amount for each taxpayer).
Rep. Christine Barber No Rep. Mike Connolly No Rep. Erika Uyterhoeven No