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The Boston Globe

Opinion

opinion | The Podium

The wrong road to progressivity

Governor Patrick’s stated goal in proposing about $2 billion in assorted tax increases is to make the system more “progressive.” Because Massachusetts is one of only seven states that impose the same tax rate on all taxpayers regardless of income, greater progressivity would be created not via a graduated rate structure but by doubling personal exemptions that provide greater benefit for low and middle income residents than for the wealthy when measured as a percentage of their income, and by lowering the sales tax rate while increasing the income tax rate.

But the governor’s plan would also eliminate 44 personal income tax breaks, most of which are “progressive” in an economic and political sense. They include tax deductions and exclusions for college tuition, childcare expenses, social security taxes, health savings accounts, adoption expenses, employee education costs reimbursed by employers, and dependents under 12. It would also eliminate incentives designed to encourage people to take in foster children, commute using public transportation, make energy improvements in or remove lead paint from their homes, and repair septic systems.

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