Doucette Eyes Tax and Liquor Law reforms, Journal Inquirer, February 18, 2020
HARTFORD — In an effort led by area legislators, state lawmakers are considering bills aimed at cutting taxes for the middle class as well as tweaking state liquor laws to level the playing field for smaller beer breweries.
Rep. Jason Doucette, D-Manchester, has signed onto proposals that aim to provide some tax relief to middle-class taxpayers, two of which were initially introduced by Rep. Michael Winkler, D-Vernon.
The first would increase the threshold from less than $100,000 to less than $150,000 for pension income deductions from the personal income tax for married couples filing jointly to provide parity with single filers.
Doucette noted that any tax cut must be offset by increased revenue in other areas in order to balance the budget.
To that end, he is supporting another bill introduced by Winkler that would maintain the estate tax exemption threshold at its current level and eliminate the $15 million cap on the gift tax.
Connecticut is slated to increase its estate tax exemption to the federal level of $11.5 million. The state’s exemption currently sits at $3.6 million and is scheduled to increase this year to $5.3 million, where Doucette believes it should remain.
“I believe that’s a reasonable level,” he said.
Doucette has introduced a bill that would increase the amount of the state Earned Income Tax Credit from 23 percent to 30 percent of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit, another proposal aimed at directly benefiting the middle class.
To help offset the lost revenue from various bills, he is proposing imposing a capital gains surcharge of 1.5 percent that would apply to the highest tax bracket — couples earning more than $1 million.
“It keeps us competitive with other states and it pays for a middle-class tax cut,” Doucette said.
He cited Gov. Ned Lamont’s ambition to provide some tax relief to the middle class, and is hopeful the proposals will help move that agenda forward.
“I really just wanted to have a conversation about these things in the name of tax fairness for middle-class taxpayers who deserve a break,” Doucette said.
Additionally, Doucette has introduced a bill that would increase the number of beer barrels that are exempt from the alcohol tax from 15 annually to 15 monthly.
While lawmakers passed comprehensive changes to state liquor laws last year, many of which were intended to benefit the growing craft beer industry, Doucette said some of the benefits are geared toward large producers of beer, leaving behind smaller breweries, such as Labyrinth Brewing Co. in Manchester, he said.
The law change allowed for increased production, but imposed a new excise tax on in-house production.
“For the small brewers, it hurts more than it helps from what I’m hearing,” Doucette said. “The intent is to soften the blow of the excise tax for small brewers.”
Doucette is lending also his support to two Senate bills that aim to deter age discrimination in employment applications and another that would allow adult adoptees to access their original birth certificates.