I live in Massachusetts. I don’t plan to live in Massachusetts too much longer as my husband will be retiring at the end of this year, and the Massachusetts tax structure does not make retirement here a reasonable option. Real estate taxes are high, the temporary increase in the rate of the state income tax has been with us for more than twenty years, and if the current governor has his way, things will only be getting worse.
Today’s Boston Globe posted an editorial by Barbara Anderson, executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. The article is entitled, “Manage money from previous tax hikes first.” That pretty much says it all, but she goes on to explain what she means.
The article reminds us of some of the history of tax increase in Massachusetts:
In 1989, Governor Michael Dukakis returned from the presidential campaign trail and demanded tax hikes to fund a billion-dollar budget increase; supporters rallied at the State House, some of them dressed as giant crayons, to protest potential cuts to the arts. The legislative leadership was able to get the votes for the tax package only after promising that the new income tax rate, increased from 5 percent to 5.75 percent, would be temporary. The Legislature raised the rate again the next year, “temporarily,” to 6.25 percent.
…Instead, in 2011 a formula created in 2002 dropped the rate to 5.25 percent, where it remains — 24 years after the first “temporary” increase, and 12 years after the voters demanded a rollback to 5 percent.
Ms. Anderson further reminds us:
The Massachusetts tax burden is the fourth highest in the nation per capita, eighth highest relative to personal income. The state is not suffering from a lack of taxes; it is suffering from a lack of accountability for the taxes already paid. The ongoing scandal over electronic-benefits cards is a maddening example of this.
I think taxpayers in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts might be a little less grumpy about their tax rate if we didn’t routinely see stories about the Commonwealth’s waste of taxpayer money. Part of that waste is due to the fact that politicians like to spend other people’s money, but another part is the fault of the voters who keep electing the same people year after year. Until someone holds the Massachusetts legislature accountable, they will continue to be out of control. It also would help to have two viable political parties in the Commonwealth, but that may be a pipe dream!