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The Fair Share Amendment is Good for All of Us

Being the Boss

My home state did a big thing last week- we passed the Fair Share Amendment.

No, I’m not talking about electing the nation’s first openly lesbian governor (although yay for firsts!). 

I’m talking about the passage of the Fair Share Amendment, which codifies into the Massachusetts constitution (yes, we have our own, and yes, ours came before the US!) a provision to impose a 4% tax on annual income above $1 million.

These funds can only be spent on transportation and public education. These are two areas that play hugely important roles in achieving economic equity.

As a very vocal supporter of the Fair Share Amendment, I was often asked how I could support a tax such as this as a small business owner. 

My answer was simple: because the Fair Share Amendment helps us all.

Like most tax issues, if you look at this in a vacuum you might assume there would be some winners (anyone who rides the T or goes to school) and some losers (millionaires). In fact, much of the marketing around this ballot question focused on that division between the two groups – “tax the rich” and “make the rich pay” were common campaign slogans.

But I see it differently. While yes, technically, anyone making more than $1 million will have to pay more, that 4% tax (about $2 billion/year) will benefit us all:

  • We’ll have a more reliable transportation system, which more people will be able to use. If more people use it, that cuts down on vehicle usage (less traffic) and carbon emissions (yay for the planet). 
  • We’ll have a better education system. More educated folks means more ingenuity (maybe we can cure cancer!) and more engagement in our economy (all those smart kids are going to grow up and do amazing things!). And by the way – this is a trickle-down effect, because all those well-educated kids are going to raise well-educated kids who are going to raise… you get the picture.
  • By improving transportation and education, we’re making huge strides to achieving economic equality. Making it easier for people to get to their jobs, care for their families and raise their children means less need for social programs, mental health care and other sources of support that our government is currently paying for. This means we can invest even more back into transportation, education, housing, the climate crisis and so much more (maybe we can even pass universal free child care like I campaigned on!).

These benefits are just the beginning. From a truly altruistic perspective, this is an incredible thing. It will help so many people and is a big step towards economic equality.

But even as a hope-to-be-millionaire-in-the-future, I love this. Because the old saying really is true – “a rising tide lifts all boats”. Taxing people with a lot a little bit more to help people with not that much is not the Sharks vs. Jets scenario that many have positioned it as. It’s just a community of people, coming together to say – we can do better.

I want to be clear – achieving economic equity is enough of a reason for this amendment to have passed. But as many of us in this community are growing our businesses and our wealth, it can be tempting to want to hang on to every dollar we have. 

I see this in the conversations I have over taxes. Also in discussions about paying your team fairly or even investing in your retirement. In a vacuum, sure, we’re on board for those things. But when we’re building our businesses, it’s hard to part with those dollars. Especially when sometimes it feels like there just aren’t enough of them. I get that.

So as you’re making financial decisions in your business and your life – especially in these uncertain times – consider the impacts beyond just the upfront cost. Consider that a well-paid team will work that much harder for you. And paying in your fair share of taxes will support the vital resources that you use every day. Resources like your roads and your schools. Consider that the more we do our part, the more our community grows and a rising tide lifts all boats.

These investments today make our community better tomorrow, and that is invaluable.