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Here’s how much money you could get back through the new Mass. tax refund

Tax returns were piled up at at a Massachusetts Department of Revenue facility in Chelsea.Kayana Szymczak/for the Boston Globe/file

You can thank Massachusetts voters of 1986 for the money that could be heading your way this November.

State officials are planning to send taxpayers a collective $3 billion under a little-known law triggered by the state’s record windfall of tax collections, the Baker administration said Friday.

The measure was passed by voters as a ballot initiative aimed at limiting the state’s tax revenues if they exceed a cap tied to wage and salary growth. Any excess must be returned to taxpayers.

Triggered once before in 1987, the law is kicking into action again this year. Here’s what you need to know about getting your refund.

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Am I eligible?

If you paid taxes on last year’s income, you probably are eligible. Anyone who paid personal income taxes in Massachusetts in the 2021 tax year and files a 2021 state tax return on or before Oct. 17, 2022, is eligible to receive a refund, state officials said. Resident and nonresident taxpayers alike are eligible.

How much will I get?

The Baker administration said eligible taxpayers will receive a refund that is approximately 13 percent of their Massachusetts 2021 personal income tax liability. So if, after accounting for any credits you received, you owed $5,000 in state income taxes, you could see $650 back.

This percentage is a preliminary estimate, the state said, and will be finalized in late October. Tax credits are also subject to offsets, including for unpaid tax liability, unpaid child support, or certain other debts.

The state’s website features a tool you can use to calculate an estimate of how much you might receive.

When will I get it?

Refunds are expected to start going out in November.

How will I get it?

Automatically, through a direct deposit or a check in the mail.

I filed jointly with my spouse. What about us?

Your refund will be tied to your 2021 filing status, the state said. So if you filed one tax return, you’ll get one refund.

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Why is this happening?

A once-obscure law passed by voters in 1986 is intended to limit state tax revenue growth to the growth of total wages and salaries, and return any excess to taxpayers. Put another way, when state tax revenue outpaces a part of the economy, taxpayers get money back. This week, the state auditor ran the numbers from the Department of Revenue and certified that taxpayers are due back $2.94 billion.


Sahar Fatima can be reached at sahar.fatima@globe.com Follow her @sahar_fatima. Matt Stout can be reached at matt.stout@globe.com. Follow him @mattpstout.