Deval Patrick on Tax Reform

Democratic Governor (MA) and presidential contender


Raise the estate tax to 55%

Q: Some believe that rising taxes again is a good idea, but with $22 trillion in debt, with the record amounts of revenue coming into Washington, isn't the real problem just uncontrolled spending?

PATRICK: There is no "the problem." There is a problem of purpose and direction and efficiency, in my view. For example, I think we should radically simplify our corporate and our individual income tax system. And while I do not support a wealth tax, I do support raising the estate tax. I think it ought to go back up to 55 percent, which is where it was. We know it works. I think about that as nonrecurring revenue. And I would use those revenues in part to pay down national debt. The other things we have to do, though, are invest in the things that enable us to grow, because that's the other solution to our national debt. And so education, innovation, infrastructure, a formula that we used to terrific effect in Massachusetts, is something we need to scale.

Source: CNN N. H. Town Hall on eve of N. H. primary , Feb 6, 2020

Called for cutting state sales tax, hiking income tax

Patrick called for a sharp increase in the state income tax and a deep cut in the sales tax.

In his annual "State of the State" speech, Patrick asked the state Legislature to approve a hike in the state's 5.25 percent income tax to 6.25 percent and a reduction in the 6.25 percent sales tax to 4.5 percent. Patrick said proceeds, estimated at $1.9 billion a year, would go to public education and transportation projects.

Source: Reason magazine on 2020 presidential hopefuls , Jan 17, 2013

Reduce sales tax; and raise income tax

I propose to restructure our tax system by placing a greater reliance on the income tax and less reliance on the sales tax. In my budget, I will propose that we cut the sales tax from the current rate of 6.25 percent to 4.5 percent and dedicate all the proceeds to a public works fund. That fund will support the transportation plan I have laid out--as well as the school building fund and other public infrastructure. Under my plan, sales tax proceeds would be off limits for any other purpose.

To support our education initiatives, my budget will propose that we increase the income tax by 1 percentage point--to 6.25 percent. To make that increase fair to all according to their ability to pay, I will propose that we double the personal exemptions for every taxpayer and eliminate a number of itemized deductions. Making those changes gives us a tax code that is simpler and fairer. These changes our sales, income and business taxes will be competitive with other states in the region.

Source: 2013 State of the State address to Commonwealth Legislature , Jan 16, 2013

Let municipalities raise property, meals, and lodging taxes

While we may not be able to fund local aid at current levels, we can provide tools to help local governments better manage through these difficult times.

In that spirit, we will again propose a series of measures that give cities and towns greater authority over local decisions. That includes raising new revenue through a modest meals and lodging tax, eliminating the outdated exemption the phone company enjoys from paying the same local property taxes everyone else has to pay, and encouraging as much regionalization of local services as practical. If we cannot provide direct aid, let's at least untie the hands of local communities to capture the savings and raise the revenue within their reach. Let's enact a municipal reform package this spring.

Source: 2009 State of the State speech to Massachusetts Legislature , Jan 1, 2009

Cut property tax; expand circuit breaker & senior exemption

Q: You oppose rolling back the state income tax from 5.3% to 5% and one of your opponents, Lt. Gov. Healey, says you will be the biggest tax and spender since Mike Dukakis.

PATRICK: Well, no is the answer to that. I think it’s a mistake to roll the income tax back to 5% right now. I think we can do it but we have to grow the economy so that we can afford to do it. I think its interesting to be lectured on taxes by the Lt. Gov., whose administration is responsible for $985 million of new taxes and fees. That’s what’s come from this administration. What I want to do is cut the property tax. I want to expand the senior exemption for property taxes and the circuit breaker. I want to extend them to low and moderate income home owners. I want to eliminate all those nuisance fees for playing on a high school team or parking in the school parking lot, and I want to restore local aid so we can get property taxes down and keep them down.

Source: 2006 MA Gubernatorial debate on Fox News with Chris Wallace , Sep 25, 2006

Tax rollback is shell game, shifting burden to property tax

Q: What would an income tax rollback do to property taxes?

HEALEY: By rolling back the income tax we’ll put more money into working peoples’ pockets, and I have a plan to take pressure off our local taxes as well by reforming our pension system, and allowing our cities and towns to invest their pensions with our state treasurer’s office. That will take literally hundreds of millions of dollars that is wasted right now and put it back onto the plate of our cities and towns and that will relieve the pressure on local taxes.

PATRICK: We’ve been playing the fiscal shell game with this administration. This is an administration that talks about rolling the income tax back and is responsible at the same time for proposing $985 million in new taxes and increased fees. $1.8 billion in increases in property taxes. That’s all about shifting the burden. Let’s be clear and candid with each other. People are ready for the truth. We can afford a 5% income rate when the economy has expanded to enable it.

Source: 2006 MA Gubernatorial debate on Fox News with Chris Wallace , Sep 25, 2006

Cut the property tax, not the income tax

REILLY: A big issue in this campaign is rolling back taxes. The people have voted on it [and we don’t have] the right to ignore the will and the mandate of the people. I’m the only Democrat in this race who is willing to stand up and fight for the people.

PATRICK: Small wonder people say, give me my money back. But the tax to cut, is the property tax. That’s the one squeezing people, and the only way to do that is to that is to restore state aid to cities and towns. And the only way to do that is to postpone the income tax and invest in ourselves.

REILLY: No one has a right on taxes to substitute your judgment for the will of the voters.

GABRIELI: I disagree with Deval [as saying] “here’s what you can’t do.” I’ve put forward a can-do plan: We can cut the income tax by taking 40% of income growth [towards tax cuts], and leave 40% in there for continuing local aid and investments. But I can hold down the property taxes just as well. I don’t think we should ignore the voters.

Source: MA gubernatorial debate on CBS4 news [Xref Reilly] , Sep 13, 2006

Restore local aid so towns can cut property taxes

Patrick opposes a cut in the income tax rates to 5 percent, something the other candidates at least give lip service to. “The fact is that rolling back the income tax from 5.3 to 5 percent is fiscally irresponsible. We can’t afford it,” he says. “The tax to cut is the property tax. And we can’t cut the property tax if we don’t restore local aid and we can’t restore local aid if we roll back the income tax.”
Source: Boston Globe Issue Outlines: on 2006 MA Governor race , Jun 3, 2006

Supports local meals tax and local-option taxes

Deval Patrick is the only candidate to endorse the idea of allowing Boston and other municipalities to impose a meals tax, or other local-option tax, saying they would help towns manage their budgets without having to raise local property taxes.
Source: Boston Globe Issue Outlines: on 2006 MA Governor race , Jun 3, 2006

Opposes tax rollback because it would raise property taxes

Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Deval Patrick, who is vying for the Democratic nomination against Gabrieli and Reilly, was the only one of the three who fully opposed the tax rollback from 5.3% to 5.0%, saying cutting the income tax would lead to higher property taxes.
Source: Dave Wedge, Boston Herald, “Governor’s debate” , May 25, 2006

Allow cities to raise local meals tax-trust local officials

Former Assistant US Attorney General Deval L. Patrick said yesterday he would support giving Massachusetts cities and towns the right to raise local meals taxes, while his rival for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly, flatly ruled out any such increase.

The sharp disagreement occurred during a face-to-face meeting between the two men before a key constituency--local officials. ‘’I am not in favor of any additional tax burdens on the people of Massachusetts,“ Reilly told the local officials.

But Patrick said he would support increases on what are known as local-option taxes, saying they would help cities and towns manage their budgets without having to raise local property taxes. ‘’I’m interested in trusting you -- the local officials,“ Patrick said. ‘’I know what’s happening in your communities.”

Source: Michael Levenson, Boston Globe, p. A1 , Jan 15, 2006

$12B in federal economic stimulus as state block grants.

Patrick signed $12B in federal economic stimulus as state block grants

The nation's governors urge you to include state countercyclical funding as part of your legislation to stimulate the economy. This would include $6 billion in Medicaid assistance by freezing scheduled federal FMAP reductions and increasing all states' F Congress approved $20 billion in assistance to states, including $10 billion in Medicaid and $10 billion in block grants. The governors' current stimulus proposal is essentially the same, with the exception that it is a total of $12 billion as opposed to $20 billion. This proposal can be enacted quickly, as there is precedent and it is timely, temporary and targeted.

Additionally, governors appreciate federal efforts to use tax policy to get additional money into the hands of consumers and businesses to stimulate the economy. When considering tax changes to spur economic growth, governors urge Congress and the Administration to follow the maxim of "Do no harm" by avoiding changes at the federal level that would diminish state tax revenues or force state actions that would undermine the effectiveness of federal efforts.

We look forward to working with you to enact the appropriate stimulus program.

Source: Letter from 37 governors to House & Senate Leadership NGA-0801TX on Jan 28, 2008

Other candidates on Tax Reform: Deval Patrick on other issues:
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V.P.Joe Biden (D-DE)
Mayor Mike Bloomberg (I-NYC)
Gov.Steve Bullock (D-MT)
Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-IN)
Rep.Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI)
Sen.Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
Gov.Deval Patrick (D-MA)
Sen.Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Sen.Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)

2020 GOP and Independent Candidates:
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Gov.Bill Weld (L-NY,R-MA)
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2020 Withdrawn Democratic Candidates:
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Sen.Michael Bennet (D-CO)
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Rep.John Delaney (D-MD)
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CEO Tom Steyer (D-CA)
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Page last updated: Feb 24, 2020