Supreme Judicial Court turns down surtax on annual household incomes over $1M

Boston Statehouse

The state’s high court struck a proposed $2-billion income surtax from November’s ballot.

Supporters of the so-called “millionaire’s tax” see the court’s ruling as a loss for the Commonwealth, while those who challenged the question say it’s a victory for democracy.

Massachusetts’ Supreme Judicial Court struck a proposal that would impose a 4-percent surtax on annual household incomes over $1-million.

Members of the Raise Up Massachusetts coalition say they are “deeply disappointed.”

“We are determined to be in this for the long term and to get this done,” said Cindy Rowe of Raise Up.

Senator Joseph Boncore, who co-chairs the Transportation Committee, told 22News, he feels the court’s decision is a “big loss for the Commonwealth.”

“This was another opportunity with the Fair Share Tax Amendment on the ballot allowing the voters to decide if they want to place an importance on transportation spending and infrastructure spending, and we really need to,” said Boncore. 

The state’s high court ruled the question improperly mixes two different spending priorities and a major change in tax policy.

The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation was one of five plaintiffs that challenged the ballot initiative, finding it “unconstitutional.”

President of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, Eileen McAnneny, told 22News, “It went far beyond the policy question of whether we should raise taxes on a subset of taxpayers. We opposed that for a number of reasons, but this question was not about that.”

Instead, it amends the constitution, she explained, saying it would be permanent and could be problematic down the road.

Senator Jason Lewis announced on Tuesday that he plans to file a legislative amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution that would accomplish what the ballot question aimed to do at the start of the next legislative session in January 2019.

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