In Congress, Democrats are putting the finishing touches on a large legislative package that is going to do good things for Maine families, like expanding access to higher education, creating new subsidies for child care and filling in gaps in the health care system.

Whenever Congress considers a bill like this, I like to look at its cost to taxpayers. As a state legislator, I know that raising revenue is often the hard part of putting together a bill. On this front, I see mostly good news. Democrats intend to cover the cost of new investments by asking the wealthy to pay their fair share in taxes. At a time of growing inequality, few should object to that.

There is, however, one tax proposal that Maine’s congressional representatives should think twice about supporting. That’s the plan to double the dividend tax on high earners. Economists believe raising the dividend tax on anyone could result in fewer dividend payments for everyone. That’s an outcome Congress should avoid. Many Mainers who are at or near retirement are counting on dividend income for savings.

There are plenty of other ways for Congress to make sure the wealthy pay their fair share in taxes. As Congress finishes its negotiations, Maine seniors are counting on Sen. Angus King and others to make sure these other tax proposals take center stage and dividends are left alone.

Wealthier individuals often become residents of Southern states such as Florida, where there isn’t as large a tax burden. This puts strain on the state’s budget through loss of tax revenue and economic activity from the very people who we should be trying to attract to keep Maines economy vibrant and provide opportunities for business to thrive and jobs to be created for new graduates in Maine.

Rep. Bruce White
D-Waterville

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