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February 4, 2013

Governor's 'revenue' plans KOs exemptions

BOSTON — Gov. Deval Patrick’s planned shifting of the income and sales tax rates would essentially result in a revenue “wash” and the bulk of $1.9 billion in new revenues under his tax code overhaul would come from eliminating specific exemptions and deductions, according to the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.

“These deductions and exemptions can have a huge impact on individual taxpayers,” MTF President Michael Widmer told the News Service.

The 44 personal income tax exemptions and deductions targeted by Patrick add up to $1.08 billion in new revenue under the tax plan, or 68 percent of the money Patrick hopes to raise once the sales tax cut and income tax increase essentially cancel each other out, according to the business-backed organization.

The net revenue gain from increasing the income tax, decreasing the sales tax, and doubling personal exemptions is $110 million, or about 6 percent of the proposed new revenues.

Widmer said the debate over Patrick’s tax proposals should focus on the proposed tax code reforms as well as the proposed revenue increase.

Patrick told the News Service that a commission studying the tax expenditure budget — a listing of foregone tax revenue due to myriad tax policy directives — last year found more tax breaks being given out than revenue collected each year by the state.

“To some extent, it’s not a question of what people pay in taxes exclusively, it’s also who pays and some of them are out of date and a few of them we put on the table,” Patrick said.

Patrick said the objective of his plan is to focus on what the state wants to prioritize for investments and why.

“And having a 21st Century transportation system, an education system that doesn’t leave people out and leave talent on the sidelines is what this is about. It’s how we grow jobs and grow opportunities. There’s more than one way to accomplish that. I put my ideas forward. Let’s see what the Legislature comes back with and we will engage with them and the [MTF] and everybody else,” Patrick said.

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