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DeLeo speaks out on taxes

ITEM PHOTO BY SPENSER HASAK
Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo addresses the North Shore Chamber of Commerce Breakfast.

By THOMAS GRILLO

MARBLEHEAD House Speaker Robert DeLeo signaled his support for the millionaire’s tax and perhaps one on short-term rental housing, but would not commit to raising the minimum wage to $15.

In a question and answer session from reporters following his speech to the North Shore Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, the Winthrop Democrat said while he is opposed to any broad-based tax hikes, a tax on millionaires and Airbnb are fair game.

“I will vote for the millionaire’s tax,” DeLeo told The Item as more than 200 executives were in attendance at the Tedesco Country Club breakfast. “… And when you have new businesses like Airbnb, with a new industry like that may come new taxes, new fees … on the minimum wage, that’s something that will be talked about and we’ll go from there.”  

Under the proposal that is expected to be on the ballot next year, the tax rate will rise by 4 percent on incomes of $1 million or above. It has been endorsed by Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst).

The Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR) estimated the tax hike could generate as much as $2.2 billion annually.  DOR said fewer than 20,000 taxpayers, or less than 1 percent of tax filers, would be affected by the change.

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DeLeo’s pivot to opposing broad-based taxes represents a switch from 2009 when he backed raising the sales tax to 6.25 percent, up from 5 percent as part of a plan to raise more than $1 billion for the state’s general fund.

On taxing Airbnb, the Senate and Gov. Charlie Baker have floated proposals that would extend the state’s hotel tax to short-term rentals as a way to expand a tax credit for low- and middle- income families. But so far, the governor and the Senate have not been able to agree on the language in the measure. Baker has said he wants to create a level playing field between the hotel industry and Airbnb.

The Bay State’s minimum wage is $11 an hour.

On raising the minimum wage, DeLeo said he wants any increase to be tied to helping business, but he was not specific.

“There will be a public hearing,” he said. “I think we should not only have a discussion relative to increasing the wage, but also have a discussion of what we can do to help business as well as part of the equation,” he said.


Thomas Grillo can be reached [email protected]

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