LETTER: Resident Supporting “Yes” on Question 1 Fair Share Amendment

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I’m writing to encourage my Watertown neighbors to vote Yes on Question 1, the Fair Share Amendment. The Fair Share Amendment will create permanent, urgently needed funding for education and transportation without placing an additional financial burden on middle- and working-class families.

Here’s how it works. We currently all pay the same income tax rate. That’s written into the state constitution. After the Fair Share Amendment passes, we would all still pay the same rate on personal incomes up to a million dollars — which is, really, a ton of money — and then an additional four cents would be paid on every dollar earned over a million in a single year.

Four cents isn’t much, but the Fair Share Amendment is estimated to raise as much as $2 billion every year for our communities. It’ll support expanded vocational programs, lower state college tuition, and repair highways. Maybe we’ll even have a functioning public transit system again.

Keep in mind, this affects only personal incomes. Small business owners would need to take home more than a million dollars in profit to see any change. Thanks to available deductions, homeowners would need to sell their properties for a gain of at least $1.5 million before they’re affected. And once again I scream into the void: that is a ton of money!

Some people will say that you can’t just throw money at problems. Those people tend to have money, which they hurl gleefully at all their problems. Money builds bridges. It repairs roads. It hires bus drivers.

Voting Yes on Question 1, the Fair Share Amendment, will give us real, sustained investments in the foundations of a prosperous future: education, transportation infrastructure, and public transit. It’s time to solve some of our problems. Let’s do it.

Daniel Pritchard
Hosmer Street

7 thoughts on “LETTER: Resident Supporting “Yes” on Question 1 Fair Share Amendment

  1. As part of the YES ON 1 campaign, I am very glad to see this letter! I hope all constituents in Massachusetts will ignore the misleading commercials, and read up on Question 1. I am sure that most will come to the same conclusion; that YES ON 1 is a good thing for everyone.

    I will also be voting Yes on 2 and Yes on 4, which have wide support from dentists and law enforcement officials, respectively. No votes on these three questions only serve the interests of big business or those who only want to promulgate fear.

  2. Talk about “misleading commercials”!!! One ad for a YES on 1 tells the voters that the money will be used for the roads and creating jobs, while another proclaims the 2 billion is for the “children”. Both say that “only the rich will be taxed”, but seem to leave out the people who lived in a home or had a business for 30 or 40 years with little money in the bank, who, if they sell their home for 1 million, will be taxed much like Robert Kraft. Somewhere in the middle is the truth, or perhaps, a few more lies. All I know is this. If politicians are behind anything with regards to the money of taxpayers, I don’t trust any of them.

  3. As I wrote on October 4, this is an important issue that once again people need to do their own homework on before voting. You may think this tax will only apply to millionaires, but YOU, in fact, may in one year be a MILLIONAIRE.

    With the values of housing in Watertown increasing, more houses than ever are selling for well over $1 million. If you have owned your home for a long time and decide to sell it and move, you have a limited amount of capital gain exclusions, especially if you are single where you only get a $250,000 capital gain deduction. You could be hit by an extra 4% of taxes on your income for that year. For just that million dollars, you would pay an extra $40,000 in taxes in ADDITION to the 5% tax that we all have to pay. That’s not pennies if you are depending on it in your retirement years, and many people who sell their houses later in life are single and have limited incomes.

    This extra 4 percent tax could also apply to a small business like a restaurant or farm that decides to sell after serving our communities for a long time. And if you’ve held any long-held securities to make it through your retirement years, this could definitely affect you if you cash them in that year.

    Another fact is that many millionaires can and may decide to move out of MA. Look at how people in CA and NY and baling out of their states because of excessive taxes. They are moving to states that tax a lot less than MA and this may be the incentive to force this to happen here. If they take their businesses, then they also take many jobs with them.
    There was an Argument Column in the Boston Globe on October 2 talking about some of these issues. It says, “Contrary to some claims, the proposed amendment does not guarantee that the higher taxes will be spent on education and transportation. The language makes clear it is not legally binding on future Legislatures. Supporters may hope continued political pressure will force legislators to spend it on those programs, but there’s no certainty they will do so. The Center for State Policy Analysis has estimated that as much as 35 percent of the estimated revenue from the tax will be avoided by people leaving the state or changing some of their decisions as investors and business owners.”

    This 4 percent increase is actually a 9 percent tax rate on anything over $1 million and is an 80 percent increase over the current rate of 5 percent that we all pay.
    If we lose ‘those’ millionaires, we will lose more of our tax base and that often causes legislatures to raise taxes on the rest of us to make up for the shortfall. Once the door is opened to increased taxes on one group, it makes it easier to start creating other incremental taxes on others. I personally think the 5 percent flat tax should remain as is.
    As the Argument article says, “The millionaires tax proposal on the November ballot is an AMENDMENT to the state’s Constitution. It can only be repealed or amended by a future amendment – a process that can take MANY YEARS.” Do we want to lock ourselves in on such tax increases trusting future legislatures to fix it? We are already known as Taxachusetts.

    I have heard over the years that once these types of tax increases are put in place, the actual taxes allocated to specific funds go away and go into a general fund where they can be disbursed as the legislature deems fit. If that ends up being true, the anticipated dollars for schools and transportation won’t be there.

    Remember the promise to take down the tolls on the Turnpike once it was finished so many years ago? That never happened! I have heard repeatedly that we pay huge amounts of more money per mile than most other states in the country for road maintenance, and I think we all agree our roads and bridges and not in good shape.

    A Reason Foundation report on November 18,2021 said we ranked 48th in total disbursements per mile, 43rd overall, 42nd for Capital and Bridge Disbursements per mile and 43rd for maintenance disbursements per mile. For Urban Arterial Pavement Conditions we ranked 47th, for Rural Interstate Pavement Conditions we were 41st and for Structurally Deficient Bridges 36th. They said in 2019 NY, MA and RI reported the highest per lane-mile expenditures.

    In 2019 MA was ranked 48th and spent $345,947 compared to NY at 49th with $373,555 and NH at 22nd with $71,214 and ME at 17th with $49,204. The nationwide average was $83,714. These are for total disbursements per state-controlled miles. If you look at the size of MA compared to other states, we are much smaller. What do we have to show for all these dollars spent? Do you think our legislators are spending our money wisely and efficiently?

    Our MTA repairs have been ignored for years and after month long shutdowns there continue to be problems.

    Money is not the answer for all these situations. We need competent people in all these areas. They need to be held accountable for doing their jobs well. That’s the problem with government jobs; no one gets fired for poor job performance. In the public sector people are held to higher standards. I think we need to stop hiring political hacks to fill open positions and look for the best qualified individuals and give them contracts to meet certain guidelines rather than just giving them more of our money to waste.

    From, I believe, a 1986 law that required excessive tax money be returned to we, the people, the legislature was dragging their feet on whether they could circumvent the law and not give us the money due us, about $3 Billion. Gov. Baker forced them to adhere to the law. The legislature seems to always want more money to spend and it is often spent foolishly and incompetently.

    Let’s start holding public officials accountable for how they spend our money and manage our needs rather than continuing to give them more money to spend on their pet projects, giving themselves huge pay increases, passing bills with voice-only votes so we don’t know how they vote, and hiring incompetent hacks who don’t do their jobs and get great benefits for the rest of their lives.

    Again I don’t pretend to have all the answers on this issue, but I urge you to do some checking on your own so that you make informed decisions when voting for Ballot Question 1 and the other ballot questions, INCLUDING BALLOT QUESTION 4 THAT NEVER MADE IT INTO OUR RED VOTER BOOKS.

    Ballot 4 will give illegals automatic voting status if they don’t check the box OPTING OUT of this opportunity. The Motor Voter Law should have been written so that people would need to check a box to OPT IN for the most precious government right and control we have rather than opting out. Let’s bring back our confidence in voting and election standards rather than create more doubt. I’m voting NO on #1 and #4.

    Reply ↓

  4. Thank you for pointing out the exemption Charlie. Any improvement costs would also count as a deduction, and the one million is indexed against inflation. There is so much that the no side does not present in their commercials. Again, read the question. Ignore the commercials funded by big business, and the neoliberal rhetoric.

    As for question 4, a driver’s license does does not let one become a registered voter in MA if one is not a citizen. With automatic voting, the RMV, MassHealth, and Health Connector collect information about lawful presence in the United States and they will not submit names to local election officials of any persons they have determined are not U.S. citizens. This is the old voter fraud Boogeyman looking for a solution to a problem that does not exist. Voter fraud is less than two percent per the Heritage Foundation, and it is often committed by older residents who have multiple residences. Law enforcement officials support the yes side for various reasons. Again, read the question. Ignore the fearmongering.

    If you don’t want big business and fear to win, then vote yes on 1, yes on 2 and yes on 4.

  5. In regards to Joan’s letter, above.

    First, for the voting aspect raised in regard to question 4, if you merely google “Massachusetts question 4 2022” you get the text of the law which includes this paragraph at the end:

    “The law also requires the registrar and the Secretary of the Commonwealth to establish procedures and regulations to ensure that an applicant for a standard driver’s license or learner’s permit who does not provide proof of lawful presence will not be automatically registered to vote.” So people who are not citizens but get drivers licenses under this new law DO NOT automatically get to register to vote so that specifically is not a reason for voting to repeal this law. People who register for a learner’s permit or driver’s license under the new law are already known to be in a different category because they won’t be able to provide what the law calls “proof of lawful presence” so they will have to have a different process for them as it is.

    There’s something else misleading in the letter. She refers to the case of someone selling a house that they’ve owned for a long time so they make a substantial profit. She mentions that a house may sell for well over a million dollars. But what matters is not the selling price, it’s the profit. Whatever the person paid for the house and whatever they paid for home improvements is not part of the profit. So you subtract those from the selling price as well as the exemption you get for your primary residence – so you also deduct $250,000 if single or $500,000 if married (or very recently widowed). Now you have your profit but if it’s still over a million dollars, it STILL isn’t that whole profit being taxed at the additional 4%, it’s just the part of your income that is over the million dollars. So if your total income for that year, including the profit on the house and any other income you have is (for example) $1,300,000, you pay your standard state tax that you would pay anyway on the whole thing, then you pay the additional 4% on $300,000. So you keep 95% of your first million and 91% of anything above that. Put that way it seems pretty good. (Though actually you don’t really since federal tax takes a bite.)

    As for the idea of “fair share”, I believe the intent is that people with lower incomes, particularly very low incomes, are paying a much larger part of their income for things like housing and food and transportation and medical care – because those for the most part don’t vary with income. So they’re struggling and may use state programs that help them. People with income over a million dollars (think of it, A MILLION DOLLARS, within one year) are perceived to be able to contribute more.

    Some years ago I sold a house I had owned for 29 years and made a pretty good profit (though nowhere near a million dollars) and an extra federal tax kicked in for me that year because it was over some threshold. Did I like having to pay more in taxes that year, no, who would? But I recognized that I was very fortunate to have made that profit and didn’t really have cause to complain when there are many people in our state and country who don’t have enough.

  6. Thank you Gail. Excellent points and thank you for clarifying Joan’s misleading points. I love how people make them (like Trump) and then go quiet. Problem is too many people believe these inaccuracies.

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