EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

September 27, 2013

Editorial: For the Tech Tax before they were against it

State lawmakers have finally done the right thing with the so-called “Tech Tax.”

By an overwhelming margin, they have tossed it in the hopper of bad ideas. After only a few short weeks on the books, the delete button has been pushed.

It was a major retreat for Democrats, who just a few weeks ago had their arms twisted by their leadership to pass it. Yesterday, they stampeded away from it.

For Democrats, it was an embarrassment that never had to happen.

Democratic leadership failed to heed all the warning signs that clearly indicated this was a bad tax, a job-killing, economy-stalling burden that our tech-heavy state didn’t need. It applied the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax to a large segment of our economy — software and technical services.

The tech tax was a poorly vetted policy, so broadly and vaguely written that even the state Department of Revenue was unclear about its scope. Democrats had only a vague idea of what they were voting on. But, as usual, they followed where their noses were led by their leaders.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo, one those leading his “people” by the nose, hailed the reversal of course at a Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce luncheon yesterday in Haverhill.

DeLeo said this year’s tax revenue windfall made it unncessary to raise other taxes to recoup the “lost” revenue.

“I’m not interested in new taxes to replace the tax we cut yesterday,” DeLeo said.

Michael Widmer, who was in Newburyport yesterday to address the Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce, had a more honest assessment of the debacle.

Widmer heads the Massachusetts Tax Foundation, a non-profit group that studies state finances and policy.

“The passing of the tax reflected a lack of due diligence on the part of lawmakers,” said Widmer, whose group lobbied against it. “The business community finally raised its voice, and Chamber members like those here today have always got to reach out to state representatives when bad initiatives are being considered.”

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