and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

August 29, 2005

Again to the "Hamill Commission" Hands off voters' Prop 2!

Since we led the fight to cut the auto excise in 1980, let us be among the first to say "No" to increasing it.

Twenty-five years ago, Citizens for Limited Taxation led the ballot campaign for Proposition 2, which not only limited the property tax levy, but cut the hated auto excise from $66/$1000 to $25/$1000.

We were told that the Massachusetts version had been created as a temporary tax. It was a particular shock to newcomers, most of whom had never heard of an auto excise unless they came from one of the three other states that had one. Only about half the states had some type of annual auto levy, usually a property tax.

The amount collected by all Massachusetts cities and towns from the auto excise was $266 million in 1980. It dropped to $112 million after the rate cut, then rose to $534 million in 2000. Though the rate was lower, the value of automobiles has increased to generate plenty of revenue from what was originally another "temporary" tax.

In 1989, John Hamill also led a Municipal Finance Commission, which also recommended changing Proposition 2. That time the recommendation was to raise property taxes higher than the Prop 2 levy limit allows. It was shot down almost immediately.

What is the Commission thinking, to want an auto tax increase as gas prices approach $3-a-gallon? To want a tax increase at all, with revenues increasing already in a state with the 4th highest per capita tax burden in the nation?

This year, as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of Proposition 2, we intend to stop this new assault on Prop 2 as well.


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