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Senior advocacy groups urge Massachusetts Gov. Baker to pass tax cuts to support older adults

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Several advocacy organizations representing older adults in Massachusetts urged passage of the Baker-Polito Administration’s comprehensive tax relief plan.

The Administration’s proposal would provide $700 million in tax relief to support those most impacted by rising prices and inflation, such as seniors on fixed incomes, renters and residents who care for older adults or children. State tax revenues continue to dramatically overperform expectations, with a recent deposit of $2 billion deposit of excess capital gains revenue into the Stabilization Fund leading to an all-time high balance of $6.6 billion. Even with that historic deposit, the Commonwealth is on track for a significant surplus at the end of the fiscal year, and the advocacy organizations today urged legislative action to give some of that surplus back to taxpayers.

“Older adults, many of whom are on fixed incomes, have been especially hard-hit by inflation and rising prices, and our tax cut plan would provide meaningful relief for seniors and their families,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “With state tax revenues continuing to come in far above benchmark, state government can more than afford to give seniors and other residents hurt by inflation a tax break. We hope our colleagues in the Legislature will join us to enact these tax cuts which would help those who are hardest hit by these tough times.”

“Inflation and rising prices are impacting everyone in Massachusetts, but especially seniors on fixed incomes,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “Our tax cut plan takes advantage of Massachusetts’ large expected surplus and targets relief to populations and communities who have been hardest-hit by both the pandemic and ongoing economic pressures.”

“The Commonwealth remains in a historically strong fiscal position and has ample resources to continue investing in critical areas of need, while also implementing important tax relief measures for everyone in Massachusetts – particularly seniors,” said Secretary of Administration and Finance Michael J. Heffernan. “We look forward to working with the Legislature over the coming weeks to pass these benefits onto hundreds of thousands of hardworking taxpayers and help ensure the continued strength of the Massachusetts economy in the long-term.”

“At no time in our history has the Commonwealth had such excess revenue,” said Mike Festa, State Director, AARP Massachusetts. “Since Governor Baker filed these proposed reforms on January 27, 2022, we have seen very significant revenue surpluses. AARP strongly urges action now. Measures such as tax credits and other financial assistance, or both, to Massachusetts’ 844,000 family caregivers; doubling the maximum Senior Circuit Breaker Credit; and increasing the rental deduction cap help lower and middle-income residents and their families achieve increased health and financial security and facilitate their ability to age in their own home and community. In addition, we continue to urge legislators to use some of the excess state revenue to provide a family caregiving tax credit.”

“The Mass Councils on Aging encourages the Legislature to act now, and pass measures that can achieve greater economic security and well-being for seniors such as doubling the maximum Senior Circuit Breaker Credit which will allow many seniors to remain in their homes and maintain the essential and in many cases, life-long connections they have built in their communities and will help to improve their economic security,” said Betsy Connell, Interim Executive Director of the Massachusetts Association of Councils on Aging.

“Through AgeFriendly.org, the Age-Friendly Institute hears from older adults in the Commonwealth and around the country every day,” said Tim Driver, President of the Age-Friendly Institute. “We collect and curate these voices and opinions via online ratings, reviews and conversations on a variety of topics. It’s very clear these older taxpayers want and need alternative forms of income and other ways to save. The tax relief to be passed to older Massachusetts residents through these proposals will make it easier for residents to make ends meet. The Age-Friendly Institute supports the moves.”

The plan includes several tax relief measures:

• Double the maximum Senior Circuit Breaker Credit to lower the overall tax burden for more than 100,000 lower-income homeowners aged 65+, resulting in $60 million in annual savings for low-income seniors.
• Increase the rental deduction cap from $3,000 to $5,000, allowing approximately 881,000 Massachusetts renters to keep approximately $77 million more annually
• Double the dependent care credit to $480 for one qualifying individual and $960 for two or more, and double the household dependent care credit to $360 for one qualifying individual and $720 for two or more to benefit more than 700,000 families, resulting in $167 million in annualized savings for eligible taxpayers
• Increase the Massachusetts adjusted gross income (AGI) thresholds for “no tax status” to $12,400 for single filers, $24,800 for joint filers, and $18,650 for head of households, which will eliminate the income tax for more than 234,000 low-income filers
• Double the estate tax threshold and eliminate the current “cliff effect” that taxes the full amount below the threshold
• Change the short-term capital gains tax rate to the personal income tax rate of 5% to align the Commonwealth with most other states

The plan would have an outsized impact on the communities hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, the rental deduction increase would provide $34 million in annual tax relief to renters in the 20 “equity communities” that the Department of Public Health identified as having been hardest-hit by the pandemic (based on factors like social determinants of health and the disproportionate racial impact of the pandemic). The “no tax status” change to eliminate the income tax for more low-income people would result in nearly $12 million in annual savings in those same communities.

About Michael Silvia

Served 20 years in the United States Air Force. Owner of New Bedford Guide.

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