LEGISLATIVE LEADERS unveiled a tax relief package on Tuesday that includes every provision of the House and Senate proposals but fits within the budget number for this year by paring back several of the elements.
The tax package, which is expected to be approved by the House and Senate this week before going to Gov. Maura Healey, has something in it for low-income residents, seniors, renters, housing developers, and businesses.
The package will cost the state an estimated $561.3 million this fiscal year. When it is fully phased in in fiscal 2027, the cost will rise to $1.02 billion, according to a legislative fact sheet.
The biggest financial impact for the state will come from raising the state’s child and dependent tax credit from the current level of $180 to $310 this fiscal year and $440 in fiscal 2024 and beyond. The House and Healey had both proposed a $600 credit, while the Senate had backed a $310 credit. The end result comes in the middle, but officials said it would be the most generous universal child and dependent tax credit in the country.
In the tax negotiations, the House pushed for relief sought by businesses, including a reduction in the state’s capital gains tax from 12 percent to 5 percent and a rejiggering of sales tax apportionment that would benefit Massachusetts companies. The tax package included both, but lowered the capital gains tax reduction to only 8.5 percent.
The tax package incorporates two Senate priorities, an increase in the Housing Development Incentive Program to spur market rate housing development in Gateway Cities. The program would see its statewide cap rise from $10 million to $57 million and then hold at $30 million in future years. A Senate proposal boosting a low-income housing tax credit was also raised from $40 million to $60 million.
Other major provisions – upping the rental deduction from $3,000 to $4,000, doubling the senior circuit breaker credit from $1,200 to $2,400, and increasing the earned income tax credit from 30 percent to 40 percent of the federal credit. – were identical in both branches. The final bill went with the Senate’s version of estate tax reform, but the end result is very similar to what the House proposed – eliminating the tax for all estates under $2 million and doing away with the so-called cliff effect, which would have applied the tax to the entire estate if the value exceeds the threshold of $2 million.
Senate President Karen Spilka, speaking at a press conference in a room just off the Senate chamber, called the tax package historic. “It is the largest bipartisan legislative tax relief proposal in over a generation, and probably within everyone’s collective memory here,” she said. “This tax relief bill will make Massachusetts more affordable, more equitable, and more competitive.”
Healey, in a statement, echoed Spilka’s comment. “As I’ve said on the campaign trail and from day one of this administration — tax relief is essential for making Massachusetts more affordable, competitive and equitable,” she said. “This is a comprehensive package that delivers relief to families and businesses, including through our proposed child and family tax credit, and I look forward to reviewing the details and delivering for Massachusetts.”
House Speaker Ron Mariano said it took a long time to get a deal on the tax package because resolving differences between the two branches was so difficult. “There were two diverse packages, not many things being similar, and it took proposal after proposal, iteration after iteration, to bring these proposals close enough to where we could get a deal,” he said.
Rep. Aaron Michlewitz of Boston, the House’s chief budget negotiator, said the long delay in reaching a deal reflected the many differences between the bills of the two branches and not ill will between the chambers. “The reports of the death of collaboration between the House and Senate are greatly exaggerated,” he said.
The final bill also contains a number of smaller provisions, including one allowing municipalities to set property tax exemptions for affordable real estate rented by people whose income is less than an amount set by the community. The bill also triples, from $6,000 to $18,000, the maximum credit allowed for homeowners replacing septic tanks. It also contains credits for lead paint removal, dairy farmers, and transit commuters.