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Corporate executives challenge Millionaire’s Tax

GRAPHIC BY RACHEL DUNCAN/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Corporate lobbyists filed a legal motion with the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Wednesday in an attempt to get the Fair Share Amendment taken off of the 2018 ballot.

The amendment, also known as the Millionaire’s Tax, started as an initiative petition that received over 157,000 signatures in 2015 courtesy of Raise Up Massachusetts, a community organization dedicated to economic equality, according to a Tuesday press release from the organization.

The amendment calls for a change in the current taxation system and offers specifics on how taxpayer money should be allocated, according to the release. Those who make over $1 million annually would be subject to a four percent increase on this income. Currently, 28 companies, many of which are members of the Massachusetts High Technology Council, are challenging this amendment.

The money obtained from the increase would be used only to increase the quality of public education and transportation in Massachusetts, according to the release. This would include infrastructure enhancements such as road and bridge maintenance, and it would also contribute to making public colleges more affordable.

Andrew Farnitano, a spokesperson for Raise Up Massachusetts, said he is not surprised highly paid corporate executives are opposed to this action.  

“When the rest of us are asked to pay more, whether it’s through the gas tax or MBTA fare hikes or other forms of payment that affect lower income people more, they support it, but now that we’re asking these highly-paid executives to pay their fair share they are trying to keep it off the ballot and take away our right to vote,” Farnitano said.

Those who are in opposition to the Fair Share Amendment have argued education and public transportation are irrelevant to the conversation. But, the tax money that would be allotted to these fields, especially education, would greatly benefit the state, Farnitano said.

“In Massachusetts, our education system is one of our strengths as a state, that we have a highly-educated workforce, and we need that to continue,” Farnitano said. “We’re going to be objecting to it in court, and were going to be calling out the executives for their hypocrisy on the issue.”

Amity Paye, the communications manager for the northeast region of 32BJ SEIU, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union, said working class people are asked to give up their money all of the time and now, the responsibility should fall on the one percent.

“Working people are asked to pay their fair share of the transportation costs all the time, and the top one percent is using their money and their power to skirt their responsibility,” Paye said. “It should be coming from people that don’t pay equal amount into the infrastructure already. It would require millionaires to pay for the transportation infrastructure, or to pay a tax into it.”

Paye said public transportation needs to be funded more through other means rather than through laborers and workers.

“There need to be investments in [public transportation], rather than that coming out of the pockets of hardworking people that are already struggling to make living wage and provide for their families,” he said.

Several Boston residents are divided on the Fair Share Amendment and if Bostonians should have the right to vote on it.

Quinnon Purvis, 60, of Back Bay, said he supports the amendment because there need to be drastic improvements made to the MBTA and all forms of public transportation

“I would be for that,” Purvis said. “Obviously we need to allocate more resources to those things.”

Lester Orellana, 36, of East Boston, said he does not support the amendment because people are already taxed too much as it is.

“I have three kids so education is very important, but it’s just not fair,” Orellana said.

Viktoria Weixler, 27, of Allston, said the tax seems excessive given the places it would be allocated.

“I just don’t really think it is necessary to [tax the one percent],” Weixler said.

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