Rep. Velis Backs Sales Tax Reduction Ballot Measure

Representative John Velis (D-Westfield) has come out in favor of a proposed cut to the state sales tax likely to appear on the ballot in November. The so-called “Massachusetts Sales Tax Decrease and Tax-Free Weekend Initiative” would set the sales tax rate back down to 5% and mandate a sales tax holiday to take place every August.

“I think lowering the sales tax is a commonsense measure. Simply put, we need to do what we can do give Massachusetts residents a little relief on their taxes wherever we can,” said the Representative. “Putting more money into the wallets of taxpayers would help make ends meet for thousands of families. It would also help to grow the local economy and increase sales at local businesses- It’s a no-brainer for me.”

Velis continued, “The sales tax was raised back in 2009 when the state needed to raise more revenue, but I believe were in a better place now, economically speaking. It’s time to bring it back down to what it was. Instead of continuing to take extra money from residents, our government should spend more wisely and live within its means, just like everyone else has to.”

Last year, Velis crossed party lines more than once to vote in favor lowering the sales tax and establishing a meal tax holiday. He is also one of only a handful of Democrats who voted against the so-called “Millionaire’s Tax,” which would add a 4% surtax to income over $1 million, both times it has come before the legislature.

“With the new federal tax reform bill going into effect, we need to look at lowering our state and local tax burden,” continued Velis. “Massachusetts is already one of the most expensive states to live in, and its about to get more expensive for many folks with the SALT deduction cap. This is a small cut, but it would be a good start for now.”

Velis was referring to the new $10,000 cap on the state and local tax (SALT) deduction, a piece of the federal tax overhaul that will no longer allow taxpayers to subtract all the money paid to state and local level taxes, like property or sales taxes, from their taxable income. Taxpayers will now be taxed on any money paid to these taxes over the $10,000 mark, a provision that is deeply unpopular in high-tax states like Massachusetts. There have been several calls for a comprehensive look at the Massachusetts tax code in light of the recent changes, a move Velis says he “whole-heartedly” supports.

“At the end of the day, people work hard for their money and deserve to enjoy the fruits of their labor. We should not be charging them an exorbitant sales tax to do so,” concluded Velis.

As of late last month, the initiative officially had enough signatures to move on to the next phase of the ballot process. Now that it has been certified with over 100,000 petitioners statewide, the legislature has until early May to pass the measure. If they fail to do so, the organizers of the initiative would only need about 10,000 more signatures to cement its place on the ballot for 2018.

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