BOSTON (State House News Service) – Top House and Senate Democrats still have their eyes on revising the voter-approved tax cap that mandated nearly $3 billion in rebates, and in the meantime, some economic analysts think it’s not all that likely Massachusetts will trigger the law again this year or next.

The law known as Chapter 62F, enacted in 1986 and last triggered in 1987, rocketed back onto Beacon Hill’s radar when legislative leaders were blindsided last summer by news that surging tax revenues far exceeded the allowable amount, causing them to pull back on targeted tax relief in favor of widespread tax refunds.

With some lawmakers wary about the prospect of hitting the cap in consecutive years — and several bills filed to eliminate the automatic relief measure altogether — Center for State Policy Analysis at Tufts University Executive Director Evan Horowitz on Tuesday attributed last year’s 62F surprise to “a few extremely fluky events”: potent inflation, COVID-19 job loss and recovery, and pass-through entity tax payment options.

“According to our projections, it would take another set of inopportune events for the state to hit the 62F limit again in the coming years, and while adjusting the 62F formula to better reflect the impact of inflation, capital gains growth, and economic volatility still makes good policy sense, the urgency of addressing these issues is unclear,” Horowitz told budget chiefs for the House, Senate and Healey administration at an annual hearing on the revenue outlook.

Horowitz said he expects the state will collect between $38 billion and $38.5 billion in taxes over the course of fiscal year 2023, an amount “well below” the current benchmark “and even further below the expected 62F cap for this year.”

In fiscal 2024, Horowitz projected the allowable state revenue amount will rise to nearly $45 billion, a figure “out of reach” of what he expects Massachusetts will actually haul in during that span.

The tax cap, enacted as a ballot question in 1986 following a campaign by the Citizens for Limited Taxation group, set a limit on state tax revenues based on the average growth in wages and salaries for the past three years.

Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation President Doug Howgate said his group believes the state would need to bring in more than $41 billion in tax revenues in fiscal 2023, higher than the final Baker administration estimate of $39.618 billion, to hit the cap.

“At current pace, we would need to continue to grow past benchmark to do that,” Howgate said.

Howgate added that the cap is poised to grow significantly in the near term because earlier pandemic years, when wages and salaries declined, will soon be replaced in the calculation by more recent years when wages and salaries increased.

“We would anticipate the ’24 limit may be challenging to breach even with surtax revenues,” he said. “Is this going to be, at least in ’23 and ’24, another thing? It could be. I’m not saying it can’t be. But I wouldn’t anticipate, certainly in ’23, us to clear the bar by anywhere approaching what happened last year.”

The cap’s emergence in 2022 paralyzed top Democrats, who in response shelved their previously approved proposals for permanent tax relief and have not outlined clear plans to return to the topic this session.

For months, legislative leaders signaled they might look to alter Chapter 62F, and House Ways and Means Committee Chair Aaron Michlewitz said Tuesday that he and House Speaker Ron Mariano are “still looking at that.”

“The speaker has brought that up on numerous occasions,” Michlewitz told reporters after the hearing. “Because it was 35-plus years or whatever since it became law and also really since it was last implemented, I think it would do it some justice to maybe modernize and look at it maybe in a different light to see if we can make it a better law than currently exists.”

While Michlewitz did not pinpoint many details about how lawmakers might change the law, one issue they previously raised is the breakdown of refunds. Because money was returned in proportion to the amount of taxes paid, the state’s wealthiest residents received checks worth tens of thousands of dollars, while those lower on the income ladder got far less.

“We’ve made it clear that it should have been a little more equitable in its distribution. It was an anomaly, it hadn’t been triggered in over three decades, but you know, it may get triggered again,” Michlewitz said. “If it does get triggered again in the future, if we do make changes, we want to see something that has a little more equitable basis to it than currently exists.”

At least four bills are in the pipeline this session that would repeal the voter-approved Chapter 62F, filed by Democrat Sen. Jamie Eldridge of Acton (SD 791), Democrat Rep. Dylan Fernandes of Falmouth (HD 3038), Democrat Rep. Michelle DuBois of Brockton (HD 3599) and Democrat Rep. Mike Connolly of Cambridge (HD 1517).

One issue lawmakers previously raised is the breakdown of refunds. Because money was returned in proportion to the amount of taxes paid, the state’s wealthiest residents received checks worth tens of thousands of dollars, while those lower on the income ladder got far less.

“We’ve made it clear that it should have been a little more equitable in its distribution. It was an anomaly, it hadn’t been triggered in over three decades, but you know, it may get triggered again,” Michlewitz said. “If it does get triggered again in the future, if we do make changes, we want to see something that has a little more equitable basis to it than currently exists.”

Rodrigues also honed in on the method of relief.

The Baker administration sent out checks and direct deposits to eligible taxpayers with their share of cash owed back, and the text of the law calls for excess tax revenue to be returned in the form of a “credit” applied to “the then current personal income tax liability of all taxpayers on a proportional basis to the personal income tax liability incurred by all taxpayers in the immediately preceding taxable year.”

Rodrigues, who said in the fall before the Baker administration announced its plan that he believed the law was “pretty clear that money is going to go out in the form of tax credits against next year’s liability,” pressed Department of Revenue Commissioner Geoffrey Snyder on that point Tuesday.

“The statute was very clear about credits versus refunds. How did you interpret that to send out refunds vis a vis applying credits to the next calendar year’s tax records?” Rodrigues asked Snyder.

“We interpreted it as being able to apply the credit to the ’21 tax year, and that resulted in refunds of what ultimately ended up being about 14 percent,” Snyder replied.