Massachusetts Stimulus Checks: Lawmakers Propose Up to $500 Rebates for Taxpayers

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Rising prices of groceries and gas is making life difficult for many Americans. To offer some relief to residents, several states have approved or are planning to offer rebates and refunds, and the latest to join the list is Massachusetts. On Thursday, the state legislature proposed sending out Massachusetts stimulus checks. Legislators are referring to the stimulus checks as “economic relief rebates,” and if approved, residents will get the money by the end of September.

Massachusetts Stimulus Checks: Who Will Get Them?

On Thursday, Massachusetts Speaker of the House Ronald J. Mariano, along with legislators, including Massachusetts Senate President Karen E. Spilka, noted that state lawmakers “will act to establish” a relief fund that will offer rebates to residents.

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“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 legislators said in a press release.

Legislators proposed sending a one-time rebate of $250 to individuals and $500 to married couples (filing jointly). To be eligible for the Massachusetts stimulus checks, taxpayers should have earned at least $38,000 in 2021, and not more than $100,000 for individual filers. For joint filers, the maximum income limit is $150,000.

House Speaker Mariano expects the rebate to benefit over 2 million taxpayers and cost the state about $510 million. The state legislature plans to use the state’s budget surplus to fund the stimulus checks.

Last week, the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation projected a $3.6 billion budget surplus for the fiscal year 2022, which ended June 30. The state Department of Revenue is yet to report the tax collection figure for June 2022.

Is This The Best Proposal?

A point to note is that the income requirement of the plan would effectively block the lowest earners from receiving the Massachusetts stimulus checks.

Democrats, however, say that they have already provided assistance to the lowest income earners with the pandemic-era premium pay program. Under the program, workers earning between $13,500 and roughly $38,600 in 2021 got a stimulus check of $500 if they didn’t get unemployment benefits during that period.

The Democratic-controlled Legislature has long been asked to consider a "gas tax holiday" as gas prices reach record highs. Democrats, however, argue that tax rebates would provide direct benefit to residents.

The plan by Democrats falls short of Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposed $700 million tax relief package. Baker proposed a plan in January that aims to make tax cuts permanent.

As of now, not all details about the latest proposal are known, including a timeline for legislative action. House Speaker Mariano noted that the lawmakers could “use any one of a number of vehicles to move things very, very quickly." The legislature session ends on July 31, so the plan to send the Massachusetts stimulus checks needs to be approved before then.