The initial 3% state sales tax was supposed to
reduce the property tax when it was first adopted in 1966. It
When the state lottery was instituted in 1971, it was going to
reduce the property tax. It didn't either.
When that sales tax was jacked up to 5% in 1975 this too was going
to do the same. It hasn't.
Hiking the sales tax to 6.25% hasn't helped
reduce the onerous property tax either, nor has hiking the 5% state
income tax since 1989. Even new local option meals taxes haven't
helped lower the property tax.
Rep. Atkins now promises that if Bacon Hill adopts a municipal
income tax, her bill this time
will reduce the property tax. It sounds so familiar. In
2006, then-candidate for governor Deval Patick made a solemn pledge
to reduce property taxes if elected. We're still waiting . . .
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H 3375 — "An Act providing for local property tax relief"
We all want property tax relief, but are we
willing to exchange another promise of relief for a new,
additional income tax?
To me it looks very much like another shell game,
with taxpayers trying to track that elusive pea as the nimble hand
If we could suspend our skepticism that this
would be an improvement — that it
wouldn't evolve into two separate municipal taxes which would
eventually be raised alternately, forcing taxpayers to perpetually
chase their tails — it still leaves
open a lot of questions. My first reaction is that if Warren Buffett
lived here he'd appreciate it, though his iconic secretary not so
The Buffetts of the world, we're told, make their
millions from their capital gains and dividends portfolios, not from
earned income. If Mr. Buffett resided in Massachusetts, would the
property tax on his mansion be reduced while adding
little-to-nothing to the municipal treasury?
And let us not forget the impending explosion
Ticking Time Bomb" of unsustainable government employee
benefits. Before the final meltdown, taxpayers will be squeezed more
if not wrung out. Won't an additional source of revenue make it
easier to stretch out the unions' gravy train?
The opportunities for mischief another income tax
can — and in Massachusetts likely
will — provide seem almost
inevitable. The sales tax, 3%-to-5%-to-6.25%, is but one painful
example. The 5% state income tax that was hiked "temporarily" 24
years ago is still awaiting the promised rollback.
According to Rep. Atkin's bill:
"The adoption of a local option income
tax and the amount of said surcharge shall be voted by the
legislative body of the city or town and approved at a
municipal election by a majority of those voting at the
This would create more local political battles as
intense and divisive if not worse than a Proposition 2½
override, overlaid on regular property tax override demands. If the
local income tax isn't passed, as with overrides the proponents will
just keep coming back again and again, week after week, until it is.
When push comes to shove we know how much too many legislators
regard the outcome of a democratic vote. We remember well the middle
finger Beacon Hill salute following the voters' 2000 ballot question
victory to roll back the income tax.
Dare we trust Beacon Hill with yet another
tax — an entirely new one?
Ask Charlie Brown.