I’m not a millionaire. I’m not even close.
However, a question on this November’s ballot threatens to steal more than my fair share of what my family has worked for. Question 1 would create one of the highest tax hikes in Massachusetts history. It will capture thousands of hard-working families each year and will unfairly punish us at a time when we are counting on our nest egg — the value of our home — the most.
My story is probably not so different from many others. I bought my two-family home in Allston in 1982. Over the past 40 years, I have made countless investments in that home. A new kitchen, a new bathroom, a new heating system. Over the years, I have probably invested more than $200,000 into the property. These are the types of investments that make a house a home. Not a mansion. Nothing excessive. A place to raise a family.
My wife and I currently receive Social Security benefits. I had a long career in public service and my wife had one at MIT. Our home in Allston is central to our retirement plans. Our home is finally paid for so when sold the capital gain will exceed $1 million. We are very fortunate, but that subjects us to this tax.
We are not multimillionaires.
We have spent our entire lives working hard. When our kids were growing up, vacations were day trips. When we bought cars, they were used ones. We could not afford new cars. Any extra money we had went toward college tuition. Loan payments followed us for many years.
Question 1, the “Millionaires Tax,” will hurt my family. It is not a small matter. The proposal would increase income taxes by 80 percent on any additional income over $1 million. This traps people like my wife and me. It robs us of our nest egg after a lifetime of hard work. I want to be sure that my wife and I can retire comfortably. I want to know that I have the resources to deal with any health issues that we may encounter. I want to leave my children with some level of financial security. This surtax would significantly impact our retirement plans and erode the sense of security our home provides.
Proponents of this tax suggest that it’s needed to fund education and transportation initiatives. I believe in both. However, this tax hike is not guaranteed to increase spending in either area, members of the Legislature would need to approve that each year. What’s more, this tax is being proposed at a time when the state treasury is overflowing with funds.
There is a myth attached to Question 1 that suggests that only the uber-wealthy will be impacted. This is not the case. This is a tax that will capture some members of the middle class and disproportionally affect us more. It is a tax that will impact some homeowners and small-business owners. It is a tax that will impact my family. Someday, it might affect other families as well. I urge you to learn the facts and vote no on Question 1.
Paul Berkeley is the past president of the Allston Civic Association.
Correction: An earlier version of this column had the incorrect spelling of the author’s name.