Letter: Clearing up the case for Truthful Share Modification | Letters To Editor

To the editor: The Fair Share Amendment on the November ballot is a simple proposition. (“Organizers want Berkshire County to put the Fair Share Amendment on the map. Here’s what you need to know about the tax proposal,” Eagle, April 5.)

If your taxable personal income is above $1 million, you’ll pay 4 percent more on income above that level. The money will go to infrastructure and education. Nothing else in the tax law will change. But opponents — dark-money defenders of inherited privilege — are spreading sinister warnings about ominous complications and perverse effects.

Those claims are baloney. Here’s one of them, from a dire social media ad paid for by one of these dark-money outfits: “Unlike federal taxes, (the amendment) would treat one-time gains from selling a home as income.” This is exactly wrong. The FSA will treat gains from selling your house just like these long-standing tax rules already do. The net profit from selling your house — that is, what’s left after subtracting what you paid for it and what you put into it and what it cost to sell it — counts as (capital gain) income. The taxable part is much less, because selling your home also benefits from a huge deduction: $500,000 for a married couple. The FSA won’t change any of that.

Another phony claim, sometimes accompanied by hand-waving about “Subchapter S corporations,” is that the amendment will harm small business. But here, too, the amendment leaves long-standing rules unchanged. Small businesses sometimes set up as partnerships and S-corporations, whose profits are passed through to the owners’ personal income taxes. The higher rate on higher incomes might mean that tax-delaying or tax-avoiding efforts founded on particular forms of doing business may be less effective. That’s not unfair: That’s the point. Very few truly small businesses would be affected. In Massachusetts, more than 97 percent of owners of “pass-through” entities have taxable personal income below $1 million.

The Fair Share Amendment is simple. However you get your income — whether it’s from a paycheck, working out of the back of your truck, raising crops or cashing brokerage checks — and however your organize that — employee, proprietor, corporation, partnership — if you clear more than $1 million in personal taxable income, you’ll pay 4 percent more on the excess over $1 million. The roads, bridges and schools will be worth it.

Michael Wise, Great Barrington