HARTFORD — A group of wealthy Connecticut residents are asking the General Assembly and Gov. Ned Lamont to raise the income tax on individuals like themselves.
So far, eight people have signed a letter to Lamont and lawmakers asking for higher taxes, according to a draft obtained by Hearst Connecticut Media.
“We ask that in this year’s biennial budget, you increase the income tax on us — Connecticut’s wealthiest residents — so that we can close the budget deficit and invest in Connecticut’s future,” they wrote.
The effort is being organized by a group calling itself “Fair Share Connecticut,” directed by Phillip Vander Klay, of New Haven, with support from the House Democratic Progressive Caucus.
Neither the governor’s budget, nor the legislature’s Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee tax package approved Wednesday, included an income tax increase, which Lamont has strongly opposed. Lawmakers’ tax proposal did include a surcharge on the capital gains tax for investment income.
Raising taxes on the wealthy via the income and capital gains taxes are priorities of the Progressive Caucus, which has 44 members — or about half the House Democrat caucus — in 2019.
“There is a tremendous amount of bipartisan public support for having the one percent pay their fair share,” said Rep. Anne Hughes, D-Easton, Progressive Caucus co-chairwoman.
“There seems to be roughly 36,000 of Connecticut’s most fortunate that averaged around $60,000 in tax savings from the Trump federal tax cut. I did talk to the governor about that. We want to restore that tax savings back into Connecticut.”
The letter proposes raising the top income tax bracket — couples making $1 million or more a year — from 6.99 percent to 8.9 percent and the second highest tax bracket — couples making $500,000 or more — from 6.9 percent to 7.9 percent. This would raise $874 million in annual state revenue, the letter states.
The letter is similar to a 2017 message to former Gov. Dannel P. Malloy calling for a tax increase for the top 5 percent of state earners and spending cuts. That letter was orchestrated by Responsible Wealth, a progressive group that was also behind a letter from 400 millionaires and billionaires asking Republicans in Congress not to cut their taxes in 2017.
The new Connecticut letter was signed by Robert Nixon, of Norwalk; Courtney Bourns, of West Hartford; Rachel Garron, of West Hartford; Scott Schoem, of West Hartford; David Topitzer, of Tolland; Frank and Shannon Demarest, of Higganum, and David Bingham, of Salem. Most of these people also signed the 2017 letter to Malloy.
“It’s just basically a matter of fairness in Connecticut tax policy,” said Nixon, a 60-year-old self-employed writer and consultant. He grew up in Fairfield County and inherited some money from his family. He’d like to see more tax dollars invested in transportation, the environment and higher education, he said.
“All the hedge fund community here don’t get asked to contribute enough,” he said.
Vander Klay is collecting more signatures from supporters before sending the letter to Lamont and the General Assembly next week, he said.
“Things aren’t final with the letter,” he said.