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It’s a stretch to call Patrick’s plan redistribution

In his Jan. 24 Op-ed column “Invest, but don’t play Robin Hood,” Edward Glaeser criticizes Governor Patrick’s tax proposal as an inappropriate effort to use the state tax system for redistributive purposes. Reasonable people can debate whether state taxes are an appropriate means of pursuing redistribution of wealth. But labeling Patrick’s proposal as redistribution flies in the face of the facts.

At present, the Massachusetts tax system is regressive. Poorer households pay a higher share of their income in taxes than wealthier households. The governor’s proposal would reduce this regressivity, but it wouldn’t eliminate it. Poorer households will still be taxed more heavily than richer ones.

Patrick’s plan is not redistribution by any definition. It’s a step toward fairness.

Peter D. Enrich

The writer is a professor at Northeastern University School of Law, specializing in state and local tax and fiscal policy. He served as general counsel to the state Executive Office for Administration and Finance in the Dukakis and Weld administrations.