SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

March 4, 2014

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

(Continued)

The truth is that the graduated income isn’t about fairness. It’s about dividing and conquering the taxpayers one income bracket at a time so the state can siphon ever more money from our pockets.

It’s a trap. Don’t fall for it.

When Gov. Deval Patrick proposed a massive income tax increase last year, legislators said no. They knew they would pay a price if they hiked taxes on everyone.

But what if they could have raised rates on only the “1 percenters,” or the 10 percenters or 20 percenters? Maybe they could have slipped it through, then gone on to hit the 30, 40, 50 and 60 percenters.

Think you don’t make enough to be affected by a grad tax? Think again.

In states with graduated income taxes, higher rates begin kicking in at surprisingly low income levels.

In California, for example, single taxpayers are charged 6 percent at $27,897 a year, according to the Tax Foundation. They pay 9.3 percent — half again as much — at just $48,942.

One Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Steve Grossman, has already thrown out the idea of raising taxes on those making $60,000. Median household income in Massachusetts is just over $66,000, according to the U.S. Census, so a Grossman grad tax would snag many, many families.

As we’ve said before, Massachusetts’ problem isn’t revenue, it’s spending. A grad tax would only enable more wasteful spending and mismanagement.

That will drive away more employers and discourage others from locating here, as California’s excessive income rates have in the once Golden State.

Here’s what our sister paper, the Eagle-Tribune, said in an editorial 20 years ago on the two grad tax questions on the 1994 ballot.

“Question 6. Vote NO. Question 6 rewrites the state constitution, allowing a graduated income tax. A grad tax would be nothing but a tax trap for hardworking people in Massachusetts. Note that Citizens for Limited Taxation, which fights to bring taxes down for working people, is opposing this measure, while public employee unions and social service providers, who favor bigger government and higher taxes, support it. Once the Legislature is given the power to play with graduated tax rates, it will constantly hike taxes — one bracket at a time.

Question 7. Vote NO. Question 7 is the bait to lure taxpayers into the trap. It promises a tax cut for 92 percent of taxpayers. That might sound good, but there is no guarantee the Legislature will not immediately tinker with the rates.”

Those words make just as much sense in 2014.

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