Gov. Patrick offers taxpayers chance to weigh his tax plan online
BOSTON (AP) -- Gov. Deval Patrick is asking Massachusetts residents to weigh the impact of proposed tax changes -- including an increase in the state income tax -- on their own family budgets, as he continues his push for the tax plan in the face of a skeptical Legislature.
The governor on Monday announced a new page on his official state website -- www.mass.gov/governor/choosegrowth -- that allows individual taxpayers to determine how they would fare under his proposal to raise the income tax rate from the current 5.25 percent to 6.25 percent, while also lowering the sales tax from 6.25 percent to 4.25 percent.
The push follows release last week of interactive maps the administration said demonstrated how the estimated $1.9 billion in new annual revenue generated by the tax changes would benefit transportation and education in each of the state's 160 House and 40 state Senate districts.
"We are proposing meaningful investments in education and transportation, and people want to know what that means for them," Patrick said in a statement. "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."
Taxpayers can enter their income, filing status and other information to determine the impact of the tax changes on their individual or family finances, Patrick said.
The administration has contended that because the proposed income tax increase also includes a doubling of the personal exemption and the elimination of some itemized deductions, about half the state's taxpayers -- including those who earn less than $60,000 annually -- would pay the same or less in taxes under his proposals.
The governor's push to convince the public of the merits of the plan come amid growing signs that the Legislature may choose a different approach as it assembles a state budget for the July 1 fiscal year.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo, appearing on the WCVB-TV program "On The Record" over the weekend, answered "yes" when asked if he believed it was unlikely the House would approve an income tax increase.
DeLeo added, however, that additional funding was needed for the state's transportation system and for education, and indicated that lawmakers could propose an alternative revenue plan, which Patrick has said he would be open to considering.
Legislative hearings on the governor's proposed budget are scheduled to wrap up this week, with the House expected to unveil its own spending plan early next month.
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