'Taxachusetts' Voters May Eliminate State Income Tax
Tuesday, October 07, 2008

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BOSTON For years, Massachusetts was known derisively as "Taxachusetts." But voters could help shed that label in November by completely eliminating the state's income tax in a single stroke.

If approved, the ballot initiative would wipe out 40 percent of state revenues and give back to each taxpayer an average of $3,600.

The Massachusetts proposal is the most notable of several tax-cutting questions that will appear next month on ballots around the nation.

Others include a North Dakota initiative to cut individual income tax rates in half and trim corporate rates by 15 percent; an Arizona measure to mandate that any initiatives requiring spending or tax increases be approved by majority of all registered voters, not just those casting ballots; and a Maine plan to repeal new taxes on beer, wine and soda.

In Massachusetts, critics say there's no way to chop $11 billion out of a $28 billion budget without decimating services, which could include closing schools and fire stations. Aid to cities and towns would also decline, placing enormous pressure on property taxes.

Gov. Deval Patrick has called the proposal "just a dumb idea" that would set the state on a road to fiscal ruin. He's the highest-profile member of a chorus of public officials, including the House speaker and Senate president, who have blasted the proposal.

Supporters of the idea say Massachusetts doesn't have to look far to see that a state can operate quite nicely without an income tax.

New Hampshire, Massachusetts' neighbor to the north, is one of nine states with no income tax.

"We're looking at New Hampshire and asking ourselves why not?" said anti-tax activist Barbara Anderson. "They have winters too. They have roads. They have schools."

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