What is the Fair Share Amendment?

Raise Up Mass Meme

Public schools and public higher education have been badly underfunded in recent decades because past tax cuts have slashed revenue. In inflation-adjusted dollars, state support has dropped.

The Fair Share Amendment would amend the Massachusetts Constitution to:

  • Add a 4 percentage point tax on the portion of a filer’s income in excess of $1 million. Income tax rates would remain unchanged for the bottom 99 percent of the population.
  • Index the $1 million threshold to inflation so that it would never affect anyone but the very wealthiest taxpayers.
  • Dedicate the estimated $2 billion raised annually to public education, public higher education and transportation infrastructure.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is Behind the Fair Share Amendment?

The MTA has joined an effort by the Raise Up Massachusetts coalition to raise revenues for education and transportation through an amendment to the state Constitution called the Fair Share Amendment.

Raise Up Massachusetts is a coalition of labor, faith and community organizations that led the successful 2014 Earned Sick Time ballot campaign. 

What's at stake?

Public schools and public higher education have been badly underfunded in recent decades because past tax cuts have slashed revenue. In inflation-adjusted dollars, state support has dropped.

  • Massachusetts ranks 43rd in state spending on higher education as a percentage of our economy. In fact, state appropriations for public higher education have dropped 24 percent since 2001.
  • Since cutting the income tax by $3 billion a year, our state has reduced local aid — money that invests in good K-12 schools and local services — by more than 40 percent.
  • State spending on early education and care is down by one-third over the past 15 years.
  • There are 446 bridges that are labeled “structurally deficient,” meaning they have “major deterioration, cracks or other flaws that reduce [the] ability to support vehicles.” The MBTA needs billions to reach a “state of good repair.”
Who will pay more?

Anyone with an annual income over $1 million would pay an additional 4 percent tax on the portion of income above $1 million. For example, if an individual makes $1,100,000 in a year, he or she would pay an additional $4,000.

Who will not pay more?

As it stands now, everyone in Massachusetts pays the same 5.1 percent, no matter how much they earn. Ninety-nine percent of us won’t pay a penny more, but we will all benefit from investments in transportation and public education that contribute to economic growth.

Why should the wealthiest pay more?

Massachusetts Income Inequality

The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center has documented that income inequality has grown tremendously in the past 30 years. At the same time, the state's wealthiest residents are paying a smaller share of their income than everyone else in state and local taxes.

The rich have gotten much, much richer, while incomes for everyone else have stagnated. According to MassBudget, the incomes of most Massachusetts households have barely increased in inflation-adjusted terms since the late 1970s. But from 1979 through 2011, incomes of the top 1 percent in Massachusetts grew 10 times faster than incomes of households in the bottom 90 percent.

The top 1 percent of earners pay, on average, 6.5 percent of their income in state and local taxes, while the bottom 99 percent pay 9.4 percent. Why the disparity? Because low- and middle-income families spend a much higher share of their income on property and sales taxes than do the very rich. (Even renters pay property taxes; the taxes are simply rolled into the cost of rents.) With the Fair Share Amendment in place, the top 1 percent would still pay a smaller-than-average share of their incomes to state and local taxes (8 percent), but the gap would be narrowed.

The U.S. has the highest rate of income inequality among all advanced economies. A 2014 Harvard Business School study found that the average CEO of a Fortune 500 company makes more than $12 million a year, or 354 times what the average employee of those companies makes. Another study found that a typical worker at a McDonald’s or Starbucks has to work for six months to earn as much as each of those companies’ CEOs makes in an hour. Yet in Massachusetts, millionaire CEOs and minimum-wage workers are all taxed at the same rate.

Read more about how different forms of taxation affect rich and poor
How will we win?

The campaign is a broad coalition of community, labor, faith, social justice and business organizations to win passage of the amendment. Many of these same groups were behind the successful 2016 effort to defeat Question 2, the ballot question to expand the number of charter schools.

The first hurdles have been passed. The campaign gathered more than the required 64,750 certified signatures in 2015, and the Legislature approved the amendment in two constitutional conventions — in May 2016 and in June 2017. The amendment will now appear on the November 2018 ballot.

Evidence and Support