BOSTON – State Rep. Susan Williams Gifford, R-Wareham, is opposing a House-backed proposal to raise the state gas tax and implement additional policy changes that would collectively increase taxes on Massachusetts residents and employers by more than $600 million, according to a press release.
Gifford voted against House Bill 4508, An Act relative to transportation finance, due to concerns about how the bill would adversely impact the state’s taxpayers and hinder job growth. During floor debate, she supported several amendments designed to eliminate, mitigate or delay the proposed tax increases, but these efforts were unsuccessful.
“We’ve been enjoying a thriving economy and have accumulated over $2.6 billion in the State’s Rainy Day fund, but there are always issues that could be cause for economic concern,” said Gifford. “This is certainly not the time to force tax increases on those who can least afford them and put job growth in jeopardy. We should be focusing on why it costs so much to maintain our roads and bridges rather than taking the easy way out of raising taxes.”
Under the bill, the motor vehicle gasoline excise tax would rise from 24 cents per gallon to 29 cents per gallon, while the tax on diesel fuel would increase from 24 cents per gallon to 33 cents per gallon.
House Bill 4508 also calls for a restructuring of the corporate minimum excise tax for companies with annual sales exceeding $1 million. Currently set at $456, the corporate minimum excise tax would be replaced with a nine-tiered structure that would result in some businesses paying a minimum excise of as much as $150,000. Gifford noted this change would put Massachusetts employers at a competitive disadvantage.
Transportation Network Companies would also be impacted by the House bill, which would implement new fees on shared, non-shared and luxury rides of 20 cents, $1.20 and $2.20, respectively, but would bar TNCs from passing these fees onto consumers and drivers. The bill also eliminates the existing sales tax exemption for new vehicles purchased by car rental companies.
Among the amendments supported by Gifford were proposals to:
• provide cities and towns with a permanent exemption from the gasoline excise tax;
• retain the existing corporate minimum excise tax;
• repeal the tax increases included in the bill if the proposed Millionaires Tax ballot question is approved by Massachusetts voters in November of 2022; and
• delay the implementation of the proposed tax increases until the Executive Office of Administration and Finance and the Department of Revenue can complete a study of the taxes’ projected impact on the Massachusetts economy and their revenue impact on the state’s cities and towns.
House Bill 4508 was engrossed by the House of Representatives on a vote of 113-40 on March 4, and will now move to the Senate for further consideration.