By Bob Katzen

The Senate 39-0, approved a package that provides $590 million in tax relief. The House has already approved its own tax reduction package and a House-Senate conference committee will hammer out a compromise version.

Key provisions of the Senate package include raising the Earned Income Tax Credit from 30 percent of the federal credit to 40 percent of the federal credit; raising the cap on the rental deduction from $3,000 to $4,000;increasing from $1 million to $2 million the value of a person’s estate that is exempt from the the state’s estate/death tax that a person is required to pay following their death before distribution to any beneficiary; increasing from $1,200 to $2,400 the maximum senior circuit breaker credit; increasing the statewide cap for the Dairy Tax credit from $6 million to $8 million; and doubling the credit for lead paint abatement to $3,000 for full abatement and $1,000 for partial abatement.

The package also provides that student loan payment assistance offered by employers will not be treated as a taxable salary and gives cities and towns the option to adopt a local property tax exemption for real estate that is rented to a person below a certain area-dependent income level.

“As I have said from the outset, tax relief should go to the workers, families and elderly residents of the commonwealth who need it most,” said Senate President Karen Spilka (D-Ashland). “Massachusetts doesn’t need just any tax relief, we need permanent, progressive, smart and sustainable tax relief. Too many families have been caught between the rising costs of healthcare, housing, education and basic goods.”

“Consistent with the views of the Senate membership, our Senate tax package is forward-looking, fiscally sustainable, comprehensive and progressive,” said Sen. Mike Rodrigues (D-Westport), chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. “It puts money back into the pockets of our residents, providing permanent tax cuts for low-income workers, families, renters, seniors and persons with disabilities, while focusing on the largest issue that is undercutting our commonwealth’s overall competitiveness – which is the affordability and availability of housing.”

“Working families aren’t leaving the commonwealth because of taxes on day-traders,” said Sen. Susan Moran (D-Falmouth), Senate chair of the Committee on Revenue. “They are leaving because they can’t find housing they can afford. This package aimed at growing housing will also grow our workforce and the commonwealth’s competitiveness.”

(A “Yes” vote is for the $590 million tax reduction package.)

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