What to know about Gov. Healey's estate tax proposal — and why some Dems are pushing back

(AP Photo/Steven Senne)
(AP Photo/Steven Senne)

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Reactions are pouring in following the passing yesterday of Mel King, a trailblazing politician and civil rights activist in Boston. He was 94. Scroll below to hear King’s colleagues reflect on his extraordinary life and contributions to the city.

But first, a quick rundown of the latest local news:

Gov. Maura Healey personally pitched lawmakers on her $750 million tax reform plan during a State House hearing yesterday. And though her proposal includes breaks for everyone from parents to renters to low-income seniors, one particular provision emerged as the subject of pushback from fellow Democrats in the Legislature: the estate tax.

  • Some background: Massachusetts is one of 12 states with its own estate tax. The one-time tax applies to properties over $1 million that are passed down after their owner dies. (The graduated tax starts off small but goes up to 16% for estates in the eight figures.) The $1 million threshold is also tied for the lowest in the country.
  • Healey’s proposal would raise the level at which the estate tax kicks in to $3 million (more than the $2 million threshold state legislators agreed to last year). It also includes a $182,000 credit for affected residents to address the current tax‘s “cliff effect.”
  • The argument for it: Home values have surged 118% over the past two decades, and the Healey administration contends that the estate tax has “some catching up” to do in order to keep the state competitive. Healey argued that “we can’t be the outlier that we are,” noting that Massachusetts has seen more people leave than move here since 2020. “We’re concerned about higher-income households leaving because of the tax revenue they generate for the state,” she told lawmakers. “We’re also concerned about people who might think that this is going to affect them.”
  • On the other hand: Several Democratic lawmakers argued that the real reason people have moved away is the state’s expensive housing and child care costs — and suggested Healey’s tax plan should double down on those issues. State Sen. Lydia Edwards said that “if we’re going to center equity,” Healey’s proposed tax cuts for renters should be “doubled, if not tripled,” while the estate tax reforms should be pared back. “I’m OK with being an outlier on so many things, because we lead,” Edward said.
  • Reality check: House Speaker Ron Mariano has continued to voice concerns about the state’s finances. So it remains unclear what, if any, tax cut plan will make it through the State House this year.

The race to be Salem’s next mayor is down to two. Neil Harrington and Dominick Pangallo advanced in yesterday’s preliminary special election. They’ll face off in a May 16 finale to serve the rest of former mayor-turned-Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll’s term, which runs through 2025.

  • It’s a job both men know closely. Harrington served as Salem’s mayor from 1990 to 1997, while Pangallo worked as Driscoll’s chief of staff for the last 10 years.

Following a series of deadly incidents, a retired MBTA engineer and a North Shore lawyer are teaming up in an attempt to overturn train whistle bans across Massachusetts. The Boston Globe reports their lawsuit aims to strike down so-called “quiet zones” in dozens of cities and towns that ban trains from routinely sounding their horns as they approach platforms and pedestrian crossings.

P.S.— Tomorrow night will likely be the best chance for Massachusetts residents to see five planets all together in the night sky. We’ll have more details in tomorrow’s newsletter on where and what to look for.


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Nik DeCosta-Klipa Newsletter Editor
Nik DeCosta-Klipa is the newsletter editor for WBUR.



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