Some Massachusetts Taxpayers Could Get a $250 Rebate Check
UPDATE: Members of the Massachusetts Legislature announced after the publication of this column a bill that would see some permanent adjustments to state tax credits in addition the rebate proposed in this article.
The leadership of the Massachusetts Legislature has apparently agreed on a formula for providing tax relief to some but not all Massachusetts taxpayers. I'm not sure everyone is going to like what they've decided.
With the clock ticking to complete work on the 2023 fiscal year budget – already nearly two weeks late – and to reach an agreement on several other priority bills, lawmakers seem to agree that the best way to provide relief to stressed-out taxpayers is by issuing rebate checks, again, to some but not all Massachusetts taxpayers.
In fact, the rebate plan would benefit just over two million taxpayers, roughly half of those who paid taxes in Massachusetts last year.
Under the rebate plan disclosed late last week, individual taxpayers who earned between $38,000 and $100,000 last year would receive a $250 rebate. Joint filers earning between $38,000 and $150,000 would get a $500 rebate.
The tax relief package would not benefit low-income earners. The leadership says those folks already received assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The rebate plan would cost about $510 million and falls far short of the $700 million tax relief plan proposed by Governor Charlie Baker. Baker's plan would have provided direct tax relief to seniors, renters, and middle-class taxpayers and would suspend the state's 24-cents-per-gallon gas tax until gas prices come down at the pump.
The Massachusetts Taxpayer's Foundation says Massachusetts has a record $3.6 billion surplus not to mention several billion more in federal ARPA funds prompting some, such as Paul Craney with the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance to call the rebate proposal a "poorly thought-out gimmick being done right before the election simply to score points with the voters, plain and simple."
A tax relief plan must be hammered out by the end of July when the current legislative session comes to an end.
Do you think a $250 rebate check for some taxpayers is a fair deal given that Massachusetts has a $3.6 billion surplus? No, me neither.