BOSTON – The Massachusetts Senate passed an increase in the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit designed to help working families. The Senate also passed an increase in the state’s personal tax exemption, guaranteeing that everyone in Massachusetts will receive an income tax reduction in the next year.
The increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit was a bipartisan cause endorsed by nearly all of the state’s legislators. The final language, which offsets increased costs by freezing the state income tax at 5.15%, was one of multiple efforts to raise the credit, separated by the means of their delivery.
Senator Michael Moore (D-Millbury) supports efforts to increase the Earned Income Tax Credit without freezing the income tax rate. “I cannot emphasize enough how important the expansion of this credit is to families across the Commonwealth,” Moore said. “Increasing this credit is a common sense policy that offers a modicum of relief for some of the hardest working members of our community.”
“Along with ten of my colleagues, I voted against the final EITC language passed by the Senate, which would invalidate a 2002 law passed by statewide referendum,” said Moore. “Despite my support for the EITC, I will not disregard or deny the will of the voters in this matter.” In November 2000, voters approved a ballot measure to reduce the state income tax to 5.3% by 2002, and to return the rate to 5% in the near future. In response the legislature instituted gradual reductions of 0.5% based on yearly economic triggers. In recent years, an improving economy has triggered three scheduled reductions to establish the existing tax rate of 5.15%, a trend which is expected to continue.
An earlier EITC amendment would have expanded the credit without providing a means to pay for the increased costs. “I enthusiastically support expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit as a means to assist working families,” said Moore. “Unfortunately, I could not support eliminating the existing statute, which reduces the tax burden for all Massachusetts citizens in a measured and practical manner.”
The Senate debate on budget amendments will continue until a final version of the document is passed to be reconciled with the House version in a conference committee. Video of the debate can be viewed live on the Legislature’s website, and updates on individual amendments are available at (https://malegislature.gov/Budget/FY2016/Senate/ChamberActions).