Should Mass. raise taxes?

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Four views on whether there have been enough reforms to justify Patrick’s proposed tax increase

Globe Correspondents | The Boston Globe | February 17, 2013

Yes: Pair revenue, reform

Since 1998, the Commonwealth has reduced personal and corporate income tax rates, costing the state $2.5 billion a year — leaving little to pay current bills or deal with $80 billion in past unfunded liabilities, let alone make critical education and transportation investments for our future. Yet with the public demanding reform before revenue, the governor and Legislature have been hesitant to increase taxes.

Reform is precisely what the Commonwealth has been doing. Major changes to the public employee health-insurance system and public pensions will save billions of dollars over the next 30 years. Accountability in our K-12 schools will enhance classroom quality. The Turnpike Authority was merged into the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, and the “Fast 14” project has sped up bridge repairs.

Thousands of other efficiencies, big and small, have been implemented, from replacing police officers with civilian flaggers to moving 3 million Registry of Motor Vehicle transactions online. Operating under a new strict statewide performance management system, every executive office has been cutting costs. With this focus on efficiency, state government employment has grown by just 0.3 percent over the past two years, while total non-farm employment has grown by 1.9 percent. State government is shrinking as a share of the state’s economy. Read More

How will the fiscal cliff compromise bill affect you?

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By Shira Schoenberg | MassLive.com | January 3, 2013

With all the discussion about the compromise bill that President Barack Obama signed into law averting the so-called “fiscal cliff,” how will the bill impact you? Here are a few scenarios.

The Unemployed

In November, the state Division of Unemployment Assistancenotified 45,000 Massachusetts residentswho were receiving federal extension benefits that their benefits will end Dec. 29. Those benefits were an additional 28 weeks of unemployment compensation approved by Congress as a way to help those struggling in the recession. The federal benefits were added to the 26 weeks of benefits provided by the state.

The compromise bill extended the federal unemployment benefits extension for another year. Alison Harris, director of communications at the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, said Wednesday that the state is still working to understand the details of the bill – including who will be eligible and for how many weeks people can receive extended benefits. In previous benefits extensions, after the bill was passed, the U.S. Department of Labor would analyze it and give instructions to the states. Harris said anyone receiving unemployment benefits should continue to file for benefits as they would on any other week, as the state works out the details. Read More

Pushed to edge of ‘fiscal cliff,’ small business owners worry about potential tax increase for high earners

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By Shira Schoenberg | MassLive.com | November 28, 2012

Joshua Golden is not going to be devastated by a tax increase. But he is reconsidering buying a new condominium in Boston. He is holding off on hiring new agents for his real estate business. He wonders if he will have less money to spend on marketing, advertising and business expansion.

Golden, 38, owns Luxury Residential Group, a Boston real estate firm that represents clients looking to buy or rent luxury condominiums in Boston and the surrounding suburbs. He makes more than $250,000 a year, which means his taxes could increase under Democratic President Barack Obama’s budget proposals.

“Because of the uncertainty about how much my taxes are going to go up, I don’t know how to budget for the next 12 to 24 months,” Golden said.

What to do about tax rates for the wealthy is one of the central disputes between Obama and congressional Republicans as they struggle to reach a compromise on avoiding the “fiscal cliff,” a mix of tax hikes and spending cuts scheduled to go into effect at the end of the year. The uncertainty has generated concern among business people who say the proposed tax increase could affect their business decisions, in addition to their own income. Read More

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