By Tina Swift , SEIU Local 888 Executive Board Member
I recently attended a Women’s Institute for Leadership Development (WILD) event. The guest speaker was Lynn Hatch who teaches at the US Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. She gave us a short course on taxes which, in 55 minutes, was the most I’ve ever learned about taxes! Historically, cutting taxes has not made our economy grow; lower taxes do not promote economic growth. Between 1960 and 2004, the people who have benefitted from tax cuts have been the 1% of the very, very rich. While productivity has tripled in the US, wages remain the same. We also learned that taxes can be flat, regressive, or progressive: • Flat taxes: Everyone pays the same rate, BUT it is really regressive due to the fact that not everyone pays the same taxes (exemptions, loopholes, etc.) • Regressive taxes: Lower income people pay a higher share of their income than higher income people. For instance if you earn $20,000 and have to pay $2,000 in sales tax, you are paying a lot more of your income than someone who earns $200,000 and pays $2,000 in sales tax. • Progressive taxes: If your income goes up, your payment of taxes goes up. The real thrust of the meeting was to build support for The Act to Invest In Our Communities, which would make the Massachusetts income tax more progressive. The Act to Invest In Our Communities: If you earn $50,000 or more, your state income tax will go up a bit. At the same time, the sales tax would be rolled back from 6.25% to 5% (where it was for years). These measures would raise $1.37 BILLION! (We currently have a budget deficit of $3 Billion.) Of course, cuts will have to be made to make up the remainder of the $3 Billion deficit. However, think of $1.37 billion cuts in jobs and services that will not be made. We could then begin repairing bridges, transportation, etc. That sounds like people working to me! By law, the Governor must submit a balanced budget. Let’s enable many of us to keep working and perhaps even save some money from what we earn. How can YOU help? Call your representative and tell them (or their voice mail) that you support a PROGRESSIVE Massachusetts Income tax and The Act to Invest in Our Communities. If you don’t know who your state representatives are, ask any public reference librarian. Tina Swift works for the Town of Amherst.