SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

March 4, 2014

Our view: Hideous 'grad tax' buzz is again heard in the land

The graduated income tax has been the life mission of left-leaning Massachusetts Democrats for decades.

Fortunately for the Bay State and its taxpayers, voters have been smart enough to see through their scheme and reject it every time it comes before them — which it has five times in the last half century.

But every 10 to 20 years, like cicadas, the grad tax grubs emerge from underground and resume their hideous buzzing about tax “fairness.”

After all, their argument goes, it’s unfair that people making $20,000 a year must pay state income taxes at the same rate — 5.2 percent — as “the rich” making $200,000.

Never mind that 5.2 percent of $200,000 is a heck of a lot more than 5.2 percent of $20,000.

Twenty years ago, in 1994, Massachusetts voters rejected a constitutional amendment imposing a graduated income tax rate by a landslide margin of 65-28 percent (7 percent didn’t mark their ballots).

Voters also resoundingly rejected the grad tax in 1962, 1968, 1972 and 1976, according to Citizens for Limited Taxation, which was founded in 1974 to fight the grad tax.

But now, as if responding to a signal only they can hear, the grad tax advocates have emerged from their long slumber.

Last week, a 15-member panel called (of course) the Tax Fairness Commission said it will recommend a graduated income tax when it presents its report to the Legislature this week.

Grad tax advocates are betting that voters are dumber than they were 20 years ago.

We do not believe they are — not once they are informed of the implications of a grad tax. We intend to inform them, and we will make it a point to query candidates for state office in this year’s election on their position on the grad tax.

Why not a grad tax? It’s only fair for those who earn more to pay higher rates than those who earn less, isn’t it?

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