NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

April 6, 2013

On Beacon Hill, taxes and April fools

(Continued)

Chip also pointed out that Massachusetts is not suffering from a shortage of taxes. According to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation, our state and local tax burden is still fourth-highest in the country, 31 percent above the national average.

Yesterday, the Tax Foundation released its annual Tax Freedom Day report. On April 13, 2013, taxpayers in the United States, as a whole, stop working for their federal, state and local government and begin to work for themselves. In Massachusetts, the date is April 25 — the fourth-latest in the nation.

Yet, we don’t adequately maintain our roads and bridges or run the MBTA with transparency or efficiency. We don’t keep track of welfare recipients’ electronic benefits cards. The state inspector general has told us that the commonwealth can’t prove the eligibility of roughly 33 percent of children receiving welfare benefits, doesn’t know if any of them are in school, if they are even in the state, or in fact if they exist at all.

During the House budget debate later this month, Republican and reform Democratic legislators will try to address some management issues with amendments. The Republicans are expected to resist any new taxes. Gov. Patrick is scheduled to push his full package at another Statehouse rally today, this one organized by a group called Stand for Children. Maybe it can find all those children who are getting benefits?

Speaking of children, someone noted on my April 1 Facebook page that “Obama has declared April the month in which his administration will teach young people ‘how to budget responsibly.’” I think this was an April Fools’ Day joke.

My favorite April 1 joke was a news release from Washington-based Americans for Tax Reform.

“Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett today announced he had written a donation check to the U.S. Treasury in order to personally comply with “The Buffett Rule.” ... Championed by President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats, the Buffett Rule is a proposed 30 percent tax on all income over $1 million.

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