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Lawmakers plan $250 'economic relief rebates' for Massachusetts taxpayers

Lawmakers plan $250 'economic relief rebates' for Massachusetts taxpayers
Lawmakers plan $250 'economic relief rebates' for Massachusetts taxpayers 02:42

BOSTON - Legislative leaders on Thursday announced that they are planning to get "economic relief rebates" to Massachusetts taxpayers by the end of September.

The one-time rebates would be $250 for individual taxpayers, and $500 to married couples who file joint returns. Taxpayers will need to have made a minimum of $38,000 in 2021, but not more than $100,000 to be eligible. The maximum limit for joint filers is $150,000.

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"Whether it is the rising price of gas, groceries, or summer clothes for kids, the Massachusetts Legislature has heard loud and clear that increased costs due to inflation have cut into family budgets," House Speaker Ron Mariano, House Ways & Means Chair Aaron Michlewitz, Senate President Karen Spilka and Senate Ways & Means Chair Michael J. Rodrigues said in a statement. "That is why we are proud to announce that the Massachusetts Legislature will act to establish the Taxpayer Energy and Economic Relief Fund, through which economic relief rebates for individuals and families will be issued."

The checks would be issued to residents before Sept. 30, 2022. Previously the state gave $500 to half a million low-income workers as part of the "Essential Employee Premium Pay Program."

A spokesperson for Gov. Charlie Baker's issued a statement about the rebate plan.

Governor Baker and Lt. Governor Polito filed a $700 million tax relief plan in January to give the people of Massachusetts a break from rising costs but more importantly, the governor's plan makes these tax cuts permanent. Cutting these taxes is the only way to deliver a real break to the seniors, renters, low income workers and parents who more than deserve it. The Administration will carefully review any tax relief proposal the Legislature sends to the Governor's desk.

The Democratic-controlled Legislature has come under fire for not considering a "gas tax holiday" amid record-high prices at the pump, which they alluded to in the rebate announcement. 

"These rebates represent the Legislature's commitment to delivering immediate financial relief directly to residents of the Commonwealth, rather than to large oil companies that continue to profit off economic uncertainty and international conflict," they said.

The average tank of gas in Massachusetts currently cost $67. Economist Jonathan Gruber says while the payment could help in the short-term, it's actually a bad move in the long run. 

"It's only going to worsen the inflation problem. So basically what is inflation caused by? It's caused by too much money chasing too few goods. If you send more money to the pockets of people in Massachusetts, that's just going to be more money chasing our limited set of goods," said Gruber.

Lawmakers seem poised to pass the proposal, sending checks out by the end of September. But Gruber says the safer bet for the economy would be to wait. 

"This is likely temporary. If you look at the long-run forecast from financial markets, they suggest that inflation will be back to normal in a year." 

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