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Massachusetts business taxes: unfair? inadequate? uncompetitive?


  • Robert Tannenwald


In debating Massachusetts business tax policy, protagonists have cited many different indicators purporting to assess the fairness, adequacy, and competitiveness of the Commonwealth’s business taxes. These statistics actually reveal very little about the degree to which Massachusetts business taxes achieve these widely accepted tax policy goals. The author explains why these indicators are misleading and presents new indicators of business tax competitiveness that, although imperfect, are more accurate than those most widely quoted. The article concludes that the fairness of Massachusetts business taxes is unclear and that the Commonwealth’s corporate income taxes are inadequate. The clearest conclusion drawn is that Massachusetts business taxes do not harm its competitive standing.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert Tannenwald, 2004. "Massachusetts business taxes: unfair? inadequate? uncompetitive?," Public Policy Discussion Paper 04-4, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbpp:04-4

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bruce, Donald & Fox, William F., 2000. "E-Commerce in the Context of Declining State Sales Tax Bases," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 53(n. 4), pages 1373-90, December.
    2. Bruce, Donald & Fox, William F., 2000. "E-Commerce in the Context of Declining State Sales Tax Bases," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 53(4), pages 1373-1390, December.
    3. Robert Tannenwald, 1996. "State business tax climate: how should it be measured and how important is it?," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Jan, pages 23-38.
    4. Robert Tannenwald, 1994. "Massachusetts' tax competitiveness," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Jan, pages 31-49.
    5. Alicia H. Munnell, 1990. "How does public infrastructure affect regional economic performance?," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, vol. 34, pages 69-112.
    6. Richard A. Musgrave & Karl E. Case & Herman Leonard, 1974. "The Distribution of Fiscal Burdens and Benefits," Public Finance Review, , vol. 2(3), pages 259-311, July.
    7. William H. Oakland & William A. Testa, 1998. "Can the benefits principle be applied to state-local taxation of business?," Working Paper Series WP-98-16, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    8. Fox, William F. & Luna, LeAnn, 2002. "State Corporate Tax Revenue Trends: Causes and Possible Solutions," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 55(3), pages 491-508, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Robert Tannenwald & Nick Turner, 2004. "Interstate fiscal disparity in state fiscal year 1999," Public Policy Discussion Paper 04-9, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

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    Business tax - Massachusetts;

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