Oct 24, 2022
Less Than 1% of Home Sales Would Be Affected by Question 1
BOSTON – Supporters of Question 1, the proposed ‘Fair Share Amendment,’ today demanded that local TV stations take down the inaccurate and deceptive new ad from the ‘No on Question 1’ campaign. This latest attack from billionaire-backed opponents of the constitutional amendment falsely claims that tens of thousands of home sales would be affected by Question 1.
“The corporate lobbyists hired to protect the ultra-wealthy are lying to voters about how Question 1 would affect home sales,” said Fair Share for Massachusetts Campaign Manager Jeron Mariani. “They’re trailing badly in the polls and this is a blatant attempt to scare seniors. The truth is 99 percent of home sellers won’t pay a penny more under Question 1.”
The ad from opponents claims that “Question 1 would nearly double the income tax rate on tens of thousands of Massachusetts residents and retirees when they sell their home.” That’s a lie.
Last year, less than 1 percent of home sales in the state generated enough of a gain to be affected by Question 1. Just 895 homes, to be exact. Not “tens of thousands.”
Today, the Fair Share for Massachusetts campaign is sending a letter to the Boston TV stations that are airing these false ads, demanding that the false ad be immediately taken down.
The letter states, “The ad purports to source the assertion to the Tufts University Center for State Policy Analysis, which published a report entitled 'Evaluating the Massachusetts Millionaires Tax.' But that report, unlike the advertisement, is based in fact. And it says nothing whatsoever about “tens of thousands” of Massachusetts home-sellers paying the 4% tax. Indeed, it says nothing about real estate sales at all. Instead, it indicates that in 2019, only 0.6% of the Commonwealth had more than $1 million in taxable income, amounting to 21,000 state tax payers.”
“When a home is sold, only the gain in value, not the sale price, is subject to income tax. And no one pays taxes on the entire gain from selling their home” said Peter Enrich, emeritus professor at Northeastern University School of Law. “Home sellers’ gain is reduced to reflect, not only their original purchase price, but also the entire cost of a renovated kitchen, an updated heating system, a new roof, or any other improvements. They can also subtract closing costs, such as realtor commissions. In addition, they can exclude up to $500,000 from their gain on the sale of their primary residence.”
After all available deductions, only a tiny percentage of home sellers would see their taxable income rise above $1 million. Last year, there were only 22 cities and towns in the entire state where more than 10 homes sold for a gain of $1.5 million or more, enough to be affected by Question 1 after deductions are taken. In 248 cities and towns, not a single home sold for a gain of $1.5 million or more. The average home that would be affected sold for a total of $3.78 million.
“At MassBudget, we focus on what the data shows. And in this case, the potential impact on taxpayers who sell their homes is slim to none,” said La-Brina Almeida, a Policy Analyst at MassBudget who has extensively researched the effects of Question 1 on home sales. “Even in Massachusetts’ hot housing market of 2021 with many homes selling for over $1 million, less than 1% of homes in Massachusetts sold for enough to be affected by Question 1.”
New filings with the state’s Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) show that the No on 1 campaign has raised more than $13.6 million to run their misleading ads, with more than half of their money coming from just six of the wealthiest people in the state. Three Massachusetts billionaires avoided having their names appear in state campaign finance reports by funneling corporate cash to the political campaign. The rest of the campaign’s funding comes from a small number of other wealthy real estate and financial investors, some of whom gave through their companies instead of in their own names.
“It makes me angry that the opponents of Question 1 are lying to retirees like me, trying to scare us with misleading ads,” said John Lippitt, a Reading homeowner and retiree who appeared in a recent Yes on 1 ad. “It’s one thing if you don’t think the very rich should pay more to improve our schools and colleges and our roads, bridges, and transit. But be honest about that, don’t try to hide behind misleading ads. The opponents of Question 1 need to stop lying to voters.”
“As I went door to door this weekend talking to neighbors in Quincy and across the South Shore, my neighbors were concerned about struggling public schools and crumbling transportation infrastructure,” said Liz Speakman, a Quincy homeowner and parent. “The middle class is struggling to afford the basics while the super-rich are paying less of their income in taxes than the rest of us. Those are the real problems facing Massachusetts, and the billionaire backers of this dishonest ad should be ashamed of how they’re trying to scare voters.”
Background on Question 1: the Fair Share Amendment
The Fair Share Amendment – Question 1 on the November ballot – will allow Massachusetts to improve our transportation and public education systems by making the very rich pay their fair share. Question 1 would create a 4 percent tax on the portion of a person’s annual income above $1 million and constitutionally dedicate the funds to be spent on transportation and public education. Only people who earn more than $1 million annually will be impacted; 99% of us won’t pay a penny more. And we’ll all benefit from better schools, roads, bridges, and public transportation.
Thousands of educators, workers, small business owners, parents, faith leaders, municipal officials, drivers and transit riders, and more than 500 organizations across the state are working together to pass Question 1. Our campaign has been endorsed by 87 labor unions; 72 community organizing groups; 18 faith-based groups; more than 75 businesses; 64 city councils, select boards, and school committees; 89 local Democratic town and ward committees; and 115 other social service and not-for-profit organizations focused on housing, education, transportation, public health, and the environment. Learn more and get involved at FairShareMA.com.
The Fair Share for Massachusetts campaign is led by Raise Up Massachusetts, a coalition of community organizations, faith-based groups, and labor unions committed to building an economy that invests in families, gives everyone the opportunity to succeed, and creates broadly shared prosperity. Since our coalition came together in 2013, we have nearly doubled wages for hundreds of thousands of working people by winning two increases in the state’s minimum wage, won best-in-the-nation earned sick time and paid family and medical leave benefits for workers and their families, and started to build an economy that works for all of us, not just those at the top.