Candidates for Massachusetts Governor Debate Sales Tax Cut as it Surges in Poll

September 9, 2010

Voters and gubernatorial candidates are debating Question 3 in Massachusetts, a measure on the November 2 ballot that would lower the state’s sales tax from 6.25% to 3%, starting January 1, 2011. The current 6.25% sales tax rate puts Massachusetts as the 30th highest state-local sales tax rate in the country; at 3%, they would be 46th highest. The sales tax rose from 5% to 6.25% on August 1, 2009.

State House News Service found in an August 29-31 poll that 54% of respondents support the tax rollback, 44% oppose, and 2% were undecided.

Question 3 dominated the recent gubernatorial debate. Gov. Deval Patrick (D), running for re-election, says he opposes Question 3 but will honor it if it passes. Charlie Baker (R) is instead pushing his “5-5-5” plan to reduce the sales tax back to 5%, reduce the income tax from 5.3% to 5%, and reduce the corporate income tax from 8.75% to 5%. State Treasurer Tim Cahill (I) echoed Patrick’s concern but Baker’s plan, and Jill Stein (Green-Rainbow) suggested an income tax on high earners coupled with a sales tax reduction.

Among the candidates for state treasurer, the Republican nominee supports Question 3 as a way of sending a message to reduce the sales tax to about 5%, while the Democratic nominee says the loss of $2.4 billion in revenue would be reckless.

More on Massachusetts here.

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