By Matt Murphy
State House News Service
---- — BOSTON — Think you can do better than the governor?
Gov. Deval Patrick is giving taxpayers a chance to try their hand at shaping tax policy with a new Web tool that allows the public to see how changes to tax rates affect state revenues and stack up against his own proposal to raise $1.9 billion for new investments in education and transportation.
The new web feature also allows taxpayers to download an Excel budget tool enabling people to enter basic tax filing information such as annual salary and deductions and see how much their tax burden will change under the governor’s reform plan.
Last week, Patrick held a press conference to highlight maps his administration published online showing how the new revenue he has called for in his budget would be spent in all 200 House and Senate districts.
The new budget and tax tools went live on the governor’s website Monday morning at www.mass.gov/governor/choosegrowth.
“We are proposing meaningful investments in education and transportation, and people want to know what that means for them. Last week, with the maps, we showed what long-postponed projects would get done in each community. Now, with this tool, we show just what the costs or savings will be for individual households,” Patrick said in a statement to the News Service.
Patrick has proposed raising the income tax a full percentage point to 6.25 percent, reducing the sales tax to 4.5 percent, and eliminating a number of personal exemptions and deductions.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo has said he has heard “grave concerns” from skeptical lawmakers and constituents about the plan, but Patrick has been working hard to sell his budget proposal before the April 10 release of the House Ways and Means budget. Critics of Patrick’s plan say taxpayers are still struggling amid a weak economic recovery and can’t afford higher taxes.
After entering personal tax data to see how the governor proposal will impact personal tax bills, the web tools allows users to adjust rates for the income tax, short-term capital gains tax, personal exemption, sales tax, corporate excise tax and the gas tax. Users can also decide whether to keep or eliminate certain categories of tax breaks, and whether to apply the sales tax to candy and soda, increase cigarette taxes or cap the film tax credit.
The tool calculates every change a user makes to show its impact on new revenues for the state to invest in education and infrastructure, as well as the user’s own tax bill.
Patrick has acknowledged that some people are not wild about his proposal, but suggested that not everyone fully understands the complexity of the proposal and how most of the revenue it would generate would be derived from wealthier residents while lower and middle income families would see the same or lower tax burdens.