ďThe world is young
Forget the gods are old,
Forget the years of gold
When all the months were May."
ó Digby Mackworth Dolben
Iíve read that this
ďmayĒ be the coldest spring in recorded history in New England,
unless we have an unusually hot day that allows 1976 to keep the
record. I havenít forgotten 1976, when we were told the new Ice Age
was coming. Regardless, the cold nights and cool days are prolonging
the life of my daffodils, forsythia and mock-pear blossoms, as my
lilac bushes wait their turn with small purple blooms, as yet
The enjoyment and
expectation do remind me of my golden youth. Yet the gods arenít the
only ones who are old; my present age is called the golden years,
but itís the gold of autumn, the end of natureís cycle.
After decades of
faithfully attending Marblehead Town Meeting, I realized this week
that I just canít sit for three hours in anything but my beloved
Ekornes stressless recliner; after an hour I went home to watch on
television. Iím glad nothing passed or failed by one vote.
The closest vote was
the last, after the debate on leaf blowers. I think this yearís
compromise, to ban them except for spring and fall cleanup, might
have passed except that at the last minute the selectmen tried to
amend it to exclude town departments. The spontaneous laughter was
followed by defeat for both the amendment and the ban.
This sense of voter
humor renewed my faith in Town Meeting, which had already been
boosted when departing School Committee Vice-Chairman Jonathan
Lederman, presenting its budget, actually thanked taxpayers for
funding the schools. He was followed by the chairman of the Glover
School Building Committee, Dick Nohelty, thanking taxpayers for
paying for the new school. Some town or state official might have
thanked taxpayers somewhere during my golden years of political
activism, but if so Iíve forgotten that golden moment.
Meanwhile, on Beacon
Hill there are new taxes in a complicated mix of bills: the
governorís $1.9 billion proposal that leans heavily on a major
increase in the income tax, so far rejected by the Legislature,
which has its own House and Senate versions with gas and tobacco tax
hikes. All versions have a new sales tax on computer services.
Thereís also a transportation bond bill and the House budget, both
of which assume passage of the legislative tax package, which is
presently in a conference committee to resolve any differences.
Meanwhile, the Senate
is working on its own version of the budget, and the governor is
still arguing for his higher, broader taxes. I am just trying to
understand how this sales tax on computer services would work.
told me: ďDuring the current depression, Iíve already had to
discount my normal rates in order to get work. Accordingly, if I
invoice my customer for $10,000, Iíd have to pay the state $625. In
other words, the sales tax will act as a 31.25% income surtax on my
$2,000 profit. This would be devastatingÖ
ďIt is even worse. As I
understand the legislation as passed by the House and Senate, if I
subcontract a portion of the project to another consultant, I would
have to pay a double sales tax on the amount of the subcontract. For
example, suppose the consultant invoices me for $5,000. As I read
the legislation, I would have to pay the state an additional $313 in
sales tax on that $5,000 invoice from the subcontractor, which would
bring the effective income surtax on this hypothetical project to
almost 47 percent.Ē
The taxpayer offered
his conclusion: ďIf this legislation becomes law, I will no longer
be able to work as a computer consultant in this state.Ē He said he
guessed he could apply for MassHealth, EBT, fuel assistance, housing
Iím sure heís not the
only productive person who has fantasies of dropping out of the
private sector and sucking up government services.
In my golden years, Iím
tempted myself to drop out into a simple life, smelling the lilacs
and roses, watching television movies, reading novels, and writing
poetry like Digby Dolenís. But I have to stay politically involved
enough to keep an eye on Proposition 2 Ĺ, which ensures I have a
roof over my Ekornes chair, where I sit to watch, read and write.
I donít know how the
new state sales tax on computer services will affect me; no one will
know until bureaucrats figure out a way to implement it. But the
U.S. Senate has just passed a sales tax on Internet sales that, if
it gets through the U.S. House, will definitely make me pay a sales
tax as well as shipping costs just to avoid driving around the North
Shore using higher-taxed gas, dodging low-attention drivers.
Stop basking in May,
folks, itís time to shop!
I just went to Amazon
to buy a high-quality metal toaster to replace the plastic one that
caught on fire last week. Iím planning to spend the remainder of my
golden years remembering my every little tax rebellion, as I enjoy
toast and English muffins from my still tax-free Internet toaster.