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Question 1: Millionaire’s tax decoded

Question 1 on the Massachusetts ballot this year proposes the Fair Share Amendment to be added to the Massachusetts Constitution that would add a 4% tax on incomes over $1 million in order to pay for “public education, public colleges and universities; and for the repair and maintenance of roads, bridges, and public transportation,” according to the Secretary of Massachusetts.

Proponents of the amendment said that it is a way to make taxes more fair while also allowing the state to invest in the future of education and infrastructure.

Stacks of $100 bills. Question 1 on the 2022 Massachusetts ballot proposes a 4% tax on incomes over $1 million made by the Fair Share Amendment. COURTESY OF PIXABAY

“Question 1 is an opportunity … to make our tax system fairer so that those at the very top pay their fair share in state taxes,” said Andrew Farnitano, communications director for the “Yes on One” campaign. “We would have $2 billion a year every year in the future to invest in better public schools and colleges and for repairing our transportation infrastructure.”

But opponents of the bill say that it will negatively affect small businesses, homeowners and retirees.

“The amendment will nearly double the tax rate on the sales of homes or small businesses, severely affecting the financial planning of retirees across the state,” wrote Dan Cence, a spokesperson for the Coalition to Stop the Tax Hike Amendment, in an email.

Farnatino says that this is not actually the case, adding the tax does not affect a business or personal assets.

“It’s not a tax on businesses, and it’s not a tax on wealth,” Farnitano said. “The only thing that matters is if a person has more than $1 million in annual taxable income when they file their tax return.”

Cence also said that the amendment “provides no guarantees that overall funding for either transportation or education will increase.” 

“The money that would be raised by Question 1’s proposed amendment would be ‘subject to appropriations,’” Cence wrote. “Lawmakers could easily apply the new funding generated by the amendment to education and transportation while taking out an equal amount of previously existing funding from the two departments to be spent elsewhere, resulting in a net-zero gain in overall budget.”

However, proponents of the amendment again argue that this is not the case.

“Question 1 is a guaranteed income stream for transportation and public education,” Farnitano said. “It’s a constitutional amendment, which means it is legally binding on the legislature. They would be required to follow it and spend the money only on education and transportation.” 

Farnitano said he believes that the amendment is a strong way to get education and transportation funded in Massachusetts.“They’ll have the ability to decide which exact programs are funded each year,” Farnitano said, “But the requirement that they only spend the money from this amendment on education and transportation is ironclad.”

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