Sweet and sour
Is anyone really surprised that someone will be making out well during a steep downturn thanks to the efforts of lobbyists arguing their case to lawmakers in what in essence was outside of public scrutiny?
A corporate tax deduction, created last year as a sweetener for businesses in a tax-tightening measure, will cost the state at least $535 million over seven years, according to a new estimate by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue.
That projected loss of state revenue - and estimates that more than half of the $535 million would benefit just three corporations - comes at a time when state dollars are already stretched thin, prompting calls to rethink the wisdom of the deduction.
Yes, apologists will argue that this really isn't a tax cut so much as it is a reduction in a tax increase. But frankly the stench of a special interest deal that benefits three companies far outweighs that argument.
It would be as if lawmakers carved out a special exemption in the new sales tax to benefit buyers of high end motorcycles. And you didn't see that special interest happen, did you?
The problem is the Taxachusetts myth. Despite data that shows Massachusetts 23rd among the states, slightly below the national average in tax burden (an 32nd in business taxes) the special interests continue to insist we are overburdened.
The mindset is now spawning bumper stickers declaring "Tax it all, Deval" a cute play on words that obviously will be the centerpiece of the 2010 campaign. But obviously, as this latest revelation suggests, not only is not all of it being taxed, it's being done rather selectively and you and I are not among the select.
So my suggestion to bored lawmakers sitting around with nothing to do while the bottom continues to fall out of our revenue base is take a little time away from the lobbyist-jammed fundraisers, get out to the local events that haven't been canceled for lack of municipal funds and then decide if three corporations deserve a tax break that will also create deeper cuts in the services the rest of us want or need.