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Will the "Millionaire Tax" reach voters?

It's called the Fair Share Amendment, and it was certified to go before voters in November. But the constitutional amendment which would impose a 4% surtax on incomes over $1 million has to pass the Massachusetts Supreme Court first.

The issue at hand isn't whether it's a good idea, but rather whether it meets the high standards necessary to be added to the state constitution. A ruling is expected in the coming weeks.

The proposal

The amendment was originally proposed by a coalition of unions and community groups called Raise up Massachusetts. It's generally known as the "Millionaire's Tax" in the local press because it only affects the portion of a taxpayer's income over $1 million per year. The group collected the required signatures to place it on the ballot as a constitutional amendment, and it was certified as good to go.

It is expected to raise $2 billion every year. The money raised by this plan would go directly to education and transportation. That's the point of contention raised in the challenge to putting this amendment on the ballot.

The opposition

A lawsuit filed directly with the Supreme Court of Massachusetts by a coalition of business groups and the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership is challenging the proposal, and hopes to keep it off of the ballot.

They contend that it is not a valid amendment because it limits the ability of the legislature to determine how money is spent. Article 48 of the state constitution bars ballot initiatives from creating specific appropriations. The group in opposition believes that this is the case.

The final say

It is not clear how long the Supreme Court will take to rule on the lawsuit seeking to block the ballot question. There is certainly a lot of time between now and November. But both sides want time to gear up for a campaign for and against this proposal, should it be allowed to continue.

No one is predicting just how the Supreme Court will rule at this time. But if it is allowed, it will be up to the voters for the final say before any changes take place.

Keeping up with the news

Even if it does not make it onto the ballot in November, there is no doubt that pressure will be on the legislature for a similar proposal. It's important to keep up with this and other news  as tax laws are changing rapidly at both the federal and state level.

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