Massachusetts Income Tax Repeal to Appear on November Ballot

July 10, 2008

The Massachusetts Secretary of State announced today that an initiative to repeal the state income tax has qualified for the November ballot, as “Question 1.” A previous income tax repeal initiative appeared on the 2002 ballot, and received 45% of the vote (885,000 votes) even though every major state newspaper and many elected officials opposed the effort.

The effort has been launched by the Committee for Small Government, which gathered 123,000 signatures to put the initiative on the ballot. One of its organizers, Carla Howell, spoke to me a few minutes ago and believes that the 2008 effort will be much stronger than the 2002 effort, with vocal endorsements and activist support. She argued that repealing the income tax will improve economic growth in Massachusetts while cutting wasteful spending.

The state income tax currently tops out at 5.3 percent, and brings in $12 billion in revenue (out of a $28 billion state budget, not including “off-budget” expenditures and local government spending). If the initiative passes, Massachusetts would become the tenth U.S. state with no state income tax, joining Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire*, South Dakota, Tennessee*, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming. (*- New Hampshire and Tennessee tax some individual investment income.)

Governor Deval Patrick earlier this year called the proposal “irresponsible,” saying it would contribute to “broken roads…, overcrowded schools… [and] broken neighborhoods.” The President of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation argues that the initiative’s passage would “decimate much of state and local services. Education, health care and so forth.”

More on Massachusetts taxes here.

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