Flush with cash from bold-name donors, opponents of the proposed Constitutional amendment to add a 4 percent surtax on annual household income above $1 million on Monday launched their first TV ad campaign in what is already shaping up to be a costly and contentious ballot fight.
The official Coalition to Stop the Tax Hike Amendment ballot campaign on Friday reported raising a bit more than $8.6 million so far this year, including big donations from New Balance Chairman Jim Davis ($1 million), John Fish’s Suffolk Construction ($1.01 million), and New England Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft’s Rand-Whitney Containerboard ($1 million). On the pro-surtax side, Fair Share Massachusetts last week reported having raised $9.9 million so far this year, including more than $4 million from the Massachusetts Teachers Association and $4 million from the National Education Association
The No on Question 1 campaign’s 30-second ad features a cranberry grower, a lobsterman, an MIT professor emeritus, and Ann Sullivan, who owns Metro Equipment Corporation in Braintree, among others. Together, they encourage voters to turn down the surtax amendment because of how it could apply to some income derived from the sale of a business or home.
“Politicians aren’t just taxing annual salaries,” Paul D’Amore, owner of the North End restaurant Massimino’s, says in the ad.
MIT professor emeritus Richard Schmalensee finishes the sentence: “It would also tax the sale of small businesses and homes in Massachusetts.”
The surtax proposal would shift the state away from the flat income tax rate structure enshrined in the Massachusetts Constitution. If the amendment is approved by voters, the first $1 million of annual household income would still be taxed at the current 5 percent tax rate and income above that first $1 million would be taxed at an effective rate of 9 percent.
It would add an estimated $1.3 billion in annual revenue for the state, according to a report published this year by the Center for State Policy Analysis at Tufts University.
“The wealthy investors and super-rich CEOs funding the opposition to Question 1 are trying to scare people because they don’t want to pay their fair share in taxes. With Question 1, small business owners won’t have to pay a penny more on our company’s revenue. Only individuals who earn more than $1 million a year in personal income will pay a little more,” Gerly Adrien, owner of Tipping Cow Ice Cream in Somerville and business director for Fair Share Massachusetts, said.