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BRIDGE BRIEFING: Romney's Tax And Fee Increases

The Tax Burden In Massachusetts Increased

As Governor, Romney Raised Individual Fees And Corporate Taxes By $750 Million. According to The Los Angeles Times, “By Mitt Romney’s account, his record as governor of Massachusetts shows how cutting taxes and public spending spurs economic growth — and serves as a model for shrinking the U.S. government. He says he stood up for conservative principles, guiding the state out of a fiscal crisis by ramming cuts through a recalcitrant Democratic Legislature. Romney takes credit for vetoing more than 800 spending items passed by the Legislature, saying he wiped out unneeded programs, cut taxes 19 times, built up a $2-billion rainy-day fund and balanced the budget four years in a row. All of that, he says, shows he can stop overspending. ‘We can balance our budget and live within our means,’ he recently told supporters in Ohio. But Romney’s telling omits key facts that clash with the agenda of his campaign for president: The Legislature overrode most of Romney’s spending vetoes. State spending rose by 22% on Romney’s watch, nearly double the rate of inflation. Romney increased corporate taxes and state fees by $750 million a year, outstripping his tax cuts.” [The Los Angeles Times, 6/9/12]

During Romney’s Tenure The Massachusetts Tax Burden Increased From 10 Percent To 10.6 Percent Of Per Capita Income. According to the Boston Globe, “Data compiled by The Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan research group in Washington, shows that during Romney’s four years as governor, the state and local tax burden in Massachusetts increased from 10 percent to 10.6 percent of per capita income.” [Boston Globe, 6/29/07]

Factcheck.org: The Massachusetts Tax Burden Increased Under Romney. According to Factcheck.org, “In Massachusetts, the tax burden figure went up under Romney, from 5.93 percent to 6.57 percent.” [Factcheck.org, 10/12/07]

State & Local Tax Burden Increased 6.5 Percent During The Romney Administration. According to The Tax Foundation, a conservative tax research organization, in 2002 (the year before Romney came to power), the state and local tax burden in Massachusetts was 9.3 percent. In 2006, Romney’s last year in office, the state and local tax burden of Massachusetts had increased to 9.9 percent. Thus, under Romney, Bay Staters saw their taxes burden increase by 6.5 percent in real terms. [The Tax Foundation, 2/23/11]

Romney Raised Taxes And Fees On Business

Governor Romney Agreed To Increase Corporate Taxes By  $375 Million A Year. According to The Los Angeles Times, “Romney also upset business leaders by agreeing to increase corporate taxes by $375 million a year. His justification was that companies had been exploiting obscure loopholes that needed to be closed. Corporate software that was downloaded from the Internet, for example, would no longer be exempt from the sales tax that applied to identical software when purchased in disc format.” [The Los Angeles Times, 6/9/12]

Romney Justified $375 Million In Fee Increases, Including A Gas Tax, Because Fees Had Not Increased In Decades. According to The Los Angeles Times, “Romney’s $375 million in fee hikes were broader: The state raised the cost of elevator inspections, boat registrations, gun licenses and ice skating at public rinks. Fines for speeding tickets went up. A new fee was imposed on law school graduates for taking the bar exam. The cost of a marriage license jumped from $4 to $50. A tax on gasoline, which the state called a fee, rose from half a cent to 2.5 cents per gallon. All of the hikes were justified, Romney said, because many state fees had not gone up in decades, and they applied only to users of specific services.” [The Los Angeles Times, 6/9/12]

Romney Raised Fees As Governor By $400 Million And Raised Corporate Tax Revenue By $300 Million. According to the Boston Globe, “Mitt Romney has the fever, the George Herbert Walker Bush no-new-tax fever. Read his lips. No new taxes. But what about new fees? On the presidential campaign trail, Romney brags about a $3 billion budget shortfall he said he closed as governor, without any tax increases. He doesn’t mention the more than $400 million in fees he raised instead. He also raised more than $300 million by closing so-called corporate loopholes, a revenue-raising measure the business community calls a tax increase.” [Boston Globe, 10/11/07]

Romney’s Third Round Of Business Tax Hikes Were Cut In Half After Democrats Balked “Amid Protests From Some Of The State’s Leading Business Groups.” According to the Patriot Ledger, “But Romney’s claim that he balanced the state budget ‘without raising taxes’ needs plenty of caveats. Romney and his revenue chief, Alan LeBovidge, presided over a steady series of what they referred to as measures to close ‘tax loopholes’ for companies. To many of the companies that had to pay more taxes, those loophole closings sure felt like tax increases. The Democrats who run the state Legislature went along with the first two rounds. But they started to balk when Round 3 arrived in 2005 amid protests from some of the state’s leading business groups, forcing the Romney administration to cut the proposed tax changes in half that year.” [Patriot Ledger, 1/26/08]

Romney Raised Fees On Business Advertisements. During the CNN Presidential Debate, in January of 2008 Mitt Romney said “With regards to fees, we raised fees $240 million. Not $730 million. Facts are stubborn things. We audited our fee increase, because, of course, we cared. Now, why did we raise fees $240 million? We had a $3 billion budget shortfall, we decided we were not going to raise taxes, and we found that some fees hadn’t been raised in as many as 20 years. These were not broad-based fees for things like getting your driver’s license or your license plate for your car, but instead something like the cost of a sign on the interstate and how much it was going to cost to publish a McDonald’s or a Burger King sign on the interstate. We went from, like, $200 a sign to $2,000 a sign to raise money for our state in a way that was consistent with the what the market had done over the ensuing years.” [CNN Presidential Debate, 1/30/2008, 15:36]

Under Romney, Property Taxes Went Up Their Highest Level In 25 Years

Romney Signed Measure Forcing Hike In Local Commercial Property Taxes And Property Taxes Went To Their Highest Point In 25 Years. Romney “signed a measure that allowed local officials to raise the commercial property tax rate, which cost business owners $100 million, according to Associated Industries of Massachusetts, the state’s largest business group.” Romney’s cuts to local aid forced Massachusetts property taxes to their highest level in 25 years. [Quincy Patriot Ledger, 12/16/05; Boston Globe, 10/24/05]

Romney’s Spending Cuts To Localities Increased Fees And Made Cities And Towns Have To Use Property Taxes For 53 Percent Of Their Budgets—A 25 Year High. According to the Boston Globe, “The effects of the initial deep spending cuts are still being felt, especially in cities and towns, which absorbed reductions of about $400 million, or 9 percent, in the first 18 months of Romney’s term. Cities and towns now rely on property taxes to pay 53 percent of their budgets, a 25-year high and up from 49 percent before Romney took office, said Geoffrey Beckwith, executive director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association. Many communities cut services and raised fees as a result, he said.” [Boston Globe, 6/29/07]

Romney’s Cuts To Local Aid Made Property Taxes Rise On The Local Level. According to Politifact, “For instance, in 2003, Romney’s first year in office, the governor and the state legislature reduced payments to cities and towns by 5.8 percent. The state increased a myriad of fees by some $218-million — Romney had proposed increasing fees by $400-million. And the state increased corporate income taxes by $174-million, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers. ‘The suggestion that he didn’t raise revenue is not accurate,’ said Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Association, a conservative group. If aid to cities and towns decreases, then property taxes at the local level increase, he said, adding that ‘it is a little bit indirect.’” [Politifact, 9/27/07]

Romney Cut Local Aid Which Forced Cities And Towns To Increase Local Taxes And Fees. According to Factcheck.org, “In addition, Romney cut local aid, a program whereby the state supplied revenue to cities and counties. In 2004, Romney cut nearly 5 percent, or about $230 million, from the local aid budget. The Massachusetts Municipal Association, representing the state’s cities and towns, said Romney’s cut ‘forced communities statewide to cut services and raise local taxes and fees.’ The exact amount of the local tax increases hasn’t been definitively tallied, but to some extent Romney avoided a state tax increase only by forcing increases at the local level.” [Factcheck.org, 5/16/07]

Romney Cuts In Local Aid Led To Local Tax Increases Mainly In The Form Of Property Tax Increases. According to Factcheck.org, “Romney’s cuts in local aid also led indirectly to local tax increases (mainly in the form of property tax increases).” [Factcheck.org, 9/6/07]

Romney’s Proposed Taxes & Fee Increases

Romney Proposed Raising Fees For On The Mentally Challenged. According to the Boston Herald, “The ax also fell on such previously protected areas as the Department of Mental Retardation, where Romney cut $ 4.6 million from residential services, day programs, family support and institutions. The governor also levied new DMR fees, forcing clients to pony up $ 25 a month for transportation and $ 25 a month for day services.” [Boston Herald, 1/31/03]

Romney Proposed An Assessment Fee On Mentally Retarded Citizens. According to BuzzFeed, “Romney proposed a fee on mentally retarded citizens of $100 to pay for an intake assessment at the Department of Mental Retardation. The assessment was previously free. The test was to determine their eligibility for state services. The legislature rejected Romney’s proposed fee.” [BuzzFeed, 6/20/12]

Romney Proposed Charging The Blind For ID to Travel Free on Public Transportation. According to the Boston Globe, “The price of being sight-impaired will be going up. They [the Romney Administration] want to start charging blind people a $15 fee for a travel ID that would allow them to continue riding the T for free. The ID currently costs nothing.” The Globe reported Romney’s tax on these ID cards would generate $14,000. [Boston Globe, 5/25/03]

Romney Tried To Increase Fee For Certificates Of Blindness. According to BuzzFeed, “Romney attempted to impose a $10 fee for a state certificate of blindness and $15 for a photo id card, but the Legislature got rid of the plans.” [BuzzFeed, 6/20/12]

Romney Proposed Hiking Or Creating Nine Fees At The Registries. According to the Springfield Union News, In his FY 2003 budget, Romney proposed “hiking or creating nine fees at the registries. For example, the fee for filing a deed or conveyance would rise from $45 to $100; the fee for obtaining a homestead exemption, which protects the equity in a home from legal judgments, would jump from $10 to $30; the fee for recording a 10-page mortgage would go from $46 to $88; and recording a 10-page trust would skyrocket from $36 to $200. Romney is also proposing a new $5 surcharge for every document recorded at a registry.” [Springfield Union News, 2/8/2003]

Romney Proposed Double And Triple Fees On Common Real Estate Transactions. According to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Romney wanted  “to double or triple many common real estate transactions, such as recording mortgages, deeds and homesteads. [They are] also proposing to raise childcare licensing fees by 30 percent and to double fees for birth, death and marriage certificates. The proposals are also soon expected to become law after the Legislature approved them last week.” [Worchester Telegram & Gazette, 2/21/03]

Romney’s Budget Quadrupled Fee For Firearms Identification & License To Carry. According to the Quincy Patriot-Ledger, “Also drawing criticism is quadrupling of fees charged to gun owners this year. Under the budget, fees will rise from $25 to $100 for both a firearms identification card and a license to carry firearms, which are required by state law. ‘In general, the government has failed to meet its obligations and now it’s passing the buck,’ said Michael Yacino, executive director of the Gun Owners Action League, which has opposed the fee increases. ‘It just shows they don’t have any answers.’”[Quincy Patriot-Ledger, 7/9/03]

Romney Doubled Tax On Marriage And Birth Certificates. According to the Boston Globe, “Birth certificates and marriage licenses, which could recently be had for just $6, will now cost double.” [Boston Globe, 1/31/06]

Romney Created New Tax For Individuals Filing Complaints With The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. According to the Boston Globe, “He vowed not to raise taxes. But Governor Mitt Romney never made any promises about fees. The governor’s proposed 2004 budget new fee on individuals who file complaints with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.”[Boston Globe, 2/28/03]

Romney Proposed Increased Taxes On Tuberculosis Tests. According to the Associated Press, “Among GOP Gov. Mitt Romney’s proposals are a $50 fee for a tuberculosis test. Another would have charged $100 to determine if someone is mentally retarded and eligible for state services, though that measure was dropped in the legislature.” [Associated Press, 7/13/03]

Romney Proposed Fees For Tuberculosis Testing. According to BuzzFeed, “Romney proposed a $50 fee for tuberculosis tests and wanted to charge a $400 fee if the person tested positive.” [BuzzFeed, 6/20/12]

Romney’s Plan Could Raise Taxes on SUV Owners. According to MetroWest Daily News, “Romney’s plan to reduce pollution could also require owners of new SUVs and other gas-guzzlers to pay a higher automobile excise tax.” [MetroWest Daily News, 9/5/02]

Romney Proposed Tax On Open-Space Development. According to the Boston Globe, “In his housing and anti-sprawl plan released on July 1, 2002, Romney proposed adding fees on developers that build in areas where open space is already limited. Romney suggested using the collected fees to fund development in underdeveloped areas.” [Boston Globe, 7/2/02]

Romney’s Housing Plan Included A “Green Space” Fee On Builders. According to the Boston Globe, “Romney on housing? Point 1 of his eight-point plan is to impose a new ‘green space’ fee on builders.” [Boston Globe, 10/6/02]

Other Taxes And Fees

Romney Had Lengthy List Of Fee Increases While Governor Of Massachusetts. According to BuzzFeed, “Mitt Romney often hits President Obama for calling for tax increases on the wealthiest Americans. But a Democratic source forwards to this rather lengthy list of fees Romney raised in Massachusetts. He was struggling to close a budget gap without raising taxes; but many of which citizens of the state saw them hidden tax increases nonetheless.” [BuzzFeed, 6/20/12]

Romney Proposed Increasing Fees On First Responders. According to BuzzFeed, “Romney proposed a $100 biannual fee on first responders for the ability to flash their vehicles lights. Romney doubled fees for the certification of EMTs from $75 to $150 per person. The cost of certifying an ambulance equipped for basic life support doubled from $200 to $400.” [BuzzFeed, 6/20/12]

Romney Wanted To Increase Fees On Golf Season Passes. According to BuzzFeed, “Romney attempted to raise golf season passes from $50 to $150. Daily golfing fees went from $17 to $22 for 18 holes, and from $15 to $17 for nine holes.” [BuzzFeed, 6/20/12]

Romney Increased Fee For Cremation Inspection. According to BuzzFeed, “Romney increased the fee for a cremation inspection from $50 to $75.” [BuzzFeed, 6/20/12]

Romney Proposed Increasing Fees For Inmate Phone Calls. According to BuzzFeed, “Romney proposed increasing the charge for an inmate to make a phone call from 86 cents to $2.” [BuzzFeed, 6/20/12]

Romney Proposed Increasing Fee For Drivers Permits. According to BuzzFeed, “Romney proposed an increase in the drivers permit fee that would double the cost from $15 to $30.” [BuzzFeed, 6/20/12]

Romney Proposed Increasing Gun License Fees. According to BuzzFeed, “Romney proposed raising the gun licensing fee from $25 to $75. The state legislature increased to $100.” [BuzzFeed, 6/20/12]

Romney Doubled The Fee For Cottage Use In State Parks. According to BuzzFeed, “The Romney administration doubled the fee to use a cottage in a state park from the price originally set in 1989.” [BuzzFeed, 6/20/12]

Romney Increased Group Skating Fees At Some Massachusetts Ice Rinks. According to BuzzFeed, “The Romney administration raised hourly group skating fees at some ice rinks, which went from $15 and $40.” [BuzzFeed, 6/20/12]

Romney Increased Fees For Barber’s Licenses. According to BuzzFeed, “Romney increased the fee for a master barber license application from $38 to $57 and the fee to renew a barber’s license from $45 To $68.” [BuzzFeed, 6/20/12]

Romney Increased Fees For Hairdresser Licenses. According to BuzzFeed, “Romney increased the fee for a hairdresser shop license application from $75 to $113.” [BuzzFeed, 6/20/12]

Romney Increased Fees For Nursing Applications. According to BuzzFeed, “Romney increased the fee for a nursing application from $75 to $100.” [BuzzFeed, 6/20/12]

Romney Increased Fees For Pharmacist Licenses. According to BuzzFeed, “Romney increased the fee for a pharmacist license application from $56 to $75.” [BuzzFeed, 6/20/12]

Romney Increased Fees For Plumbers Licenses. According to BuzzFeed, “Romney increased the fee on a master plumber’s license from $45 to $68.” [BuzzFeed, 6/20/12]

Romney Increase Fees For Psychologists Licenses. According to BuzzFeed, “Romney increased the fee for a psychologist license from $100 to $150 in 2003.” [BuzzFeed, 6/20/12]

Romney Increased Fees For Real Estate Licenses. According to BuzzFeed, “Romney increased the fee to get a real estate salesman license from $18 to $27 and the fee to renew a license from $45 to $68.” [BuzzFeed, 6/20/12]

Romney Increased Fees For Home Inspection Licenses. According to BuzzFeed, “Romney increased the fee for a home inspector license from $225 to $338 and increased the renewal fee from $150 to $225.” [BuzzFeed, 6/20/12]

Romney Increased Fees For Motor Vehicle Repair Shop Licenses. According to BuzzFeed, “Romney increased the fee for a motor vehicle repair shop license from $100-a-year to $450 for a three year license.” [BuzzFeed, 6/20/12]

Romney Increased Fees For Filing For Divorce. According to BuzzFeed, “Romney increased the fee for filing for divorce from $140 to $200.” [BuzzFeed, 6/20/12]

Romney Increased Fees For Changing One’s Name. According to BuzzFeed, “Romney increased the fee to change your name from $70 to $150.” [BuzzFeed, 6/20/12]

Romney Increased Fees For Milk Laboratory Certificates.  According to BuzzFeed, “Romney increased the fee for milk laboratory certificate from $75 to $150.” [BuzzFeed, 6/20/12]

Romney Increased Fees For Funeral Directors License Renewal. According to BuzzFeed, “Romney increased the fee to renew a funeral directors license from $56 To $84.” [BuzzFeed, 6/20/12]