Government services can be vital in providing equity of opportunity, supporting our most vulnerable residents, and regulating potential harm that may come to one member of society to the benefit of another member. Tax revenue is needed for these important roles, but ought to be collected not only in a way that does no harm to any one segment of society, but that also fosters the same values of equity, access, and fairness.
Our tax system in Massachusetts currently fails to live up to these values. If you add up all types of taxes for each category - sales, income, payroll, etc. - you find that low income residents of Massachusetts pay far more than their fair share compared to the highest earners. Catia worked on a plan under Governor Patrick to increase tax fairness. From that role, she knows about the loopholes and tax credits that disproportionately benefit high earners, and how making up for those lost revenues through high sales taxes disproportionately hurts our most vulnerable residents.
Catia is in favor of improving tax fairness so that the way the state raises revenues follows the same moral principles that Catia espouses in how it spends those dollars: equity and justice for all.
In 2013, Catia was an analyst in Governor Deval Patrick's budget office. She was on a team that developed a tax proposal intended to do two things:
The plan was simple: take a tax code that is regressive (taxes low income residents at higher effective tax rates than high income residents) and reverse it to become progressive. The way to do that? Eliminate lots of special tax credits and deductions that benefit higher earners while increasing the personal exemption.
Of course, details matter. Catia learned that large-scale tax reform is difficult because there is a constituency for every single one of those special tax loopholes. But she also learned that the tax code can be a lot more fair than it currently is. Further, she learned that there is room to raise more revenue from high income earners to pay for desperately needed investments described on other pages of this site: transportation, education, healthcare, and other areas.
The Massachusetts House of Representatives failed to take bold action on a revenue package in 2013. They allowed the tax system to remain as unfair as ever. They allowed our transportation infrastructure to fall even further into disrepair, and two years later the MBTA was brought to a near-standstill by a particularly harsh winter. They allowed education to remain underfunded, failing to invest in our children.
Catia plans to tackle these issues head-on if elected.
There was also a push in the legislature last year to clear the way to adopt the "Fair Share" state constitutional amendment to allow for a "Millionaire's tax." This would obviously be a very direct way to improve the progressivity of the Massachusetts tax system, and raise revenue to pay for critically needed items like infrastructure and education. I would wholeheartedly support this tax, which only taxes income earned in a year starting with the millionth dollar. This is an incredibly fair way to raise needed revenue and make the tax system fairer.