BOSTON (SHNS) – House Democrats will unveil a tax relief and reform bill Tuesday with plans to bring it forward for a vote later in the week, Speaker Ron Mariano said Monday.
Mariano told reporters House leaders will make their proposal public on Tuesday and then bring it to the floor for a vote during a formal session planned for Thursday, a day after the House Ways and Means Committee is planning to roll out its fiscal year 2024 budget bill.
“It’s based on a lot of the things that we talked about before,” Mariano said, referring to the tax code changes both branches initially approved last year before retreating from the topic once top Democrats learned the state owed nearly $3 billion in mandatory rebates to taxpayers.
“Everything is on the table,” Mariano repeated when pressed on specific policies.
When he announced on March 30 that the House would revive its push for tax reforms, Mariano said the bill would aim to provide “responsible, permanent financial relief to all residents of the Commonwealth, regardless of income status” while making Massachusetts more competitive with other states.
He signaled that some kind of change to the $1 million estate tax threshold will be in his chamber’s package, and added that the bill would phase in some of the changes over several years.
Gov. Maura Healey has made tax reform a priority, rolling out her own nearly $1 billion plan consisting of a new $600-per-dependent tax credit, expanded breaks for renters and seniors, a threefold estate tax threshold increase, and a cut to the short-term capital gains tax from 12 percent to 5 percent.
“Where we are right now is in the middle of this process,” Healey replied Monday when asked if a multi-year phase-in would conflict with the sense of urgency she has described around tax relief. “A lot of important work has taken place. A lot of hearings around the state, you know, and people have weighed in. We’ll continue to be at the table and work through this. I think we all have an aligned interest in doing everything we can for this great state and making sure that for its residents and families all across the state, we’re positioned as best we can possibly be.”
After meeting privately with Healey and Senate President Karen Spilka, Mariano told reporters that he “laid out some of the things that [the House is] going to be doing” on taxes during the huddle, but suggested that “discussion” would not be the right word to describe the interaction.
The Joint Committee on Revenue held a public hearing on Gov. Maura Healey’s tax relief bill, but has not made a recommendation on the nearly $1 billion in tax policy measures proposed by the new governor.
The panel has not opened any poll on Healey’s bill or other tax legislation, indicating the package may instead emerge directly from the House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday ahead of a vote planned for Thursday.
That timing also means representatives will vote on the tax plan after House Democrats release their fiscal year 2024 budget, which may need to account for the revenue impact of tax relief.
Spilka has not laid out her own plans, though she signaled again on Monday she is interested in action.
“I’ve been saying for months that I believe that we should and could do progressive, permanent tax reform. I still believe that,” she said.
Last week, the left-leaning Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center published a report arguing that the Bay State had one of the lowest rates of wealthy residents leaving for other states. The group said tax cuts benefitting wealthier residents “would be a costly and ineffective ‘solution’ to a problem Massachusetts does not have.”
Asked about that report Monday, Mariano referenced the new 4 percent surtax on household income above $1 million that voters approved in November.
“I think it’s a little premature to make an evaluation based on a tax cut that just went into effect. No one’s paid it yet,” he said.
“A lot of the discussions we had on the House side were made before we knew whether or not the millionaires tax was going to pass,” Mariano added about the surtax that House and Senate Democrats advanced to the ballot.