In an amusing bit of muckraking, the Boston Herald accuses senior U.S. Senator John Kerry of deliberately avoiding the payment of Massachusetts state sales and excise taxAn excise tax is a tax imposed on a specific good or activity. Excise taxes are commonly levied on cigarettes, alcoholic beverages, soda, gasoline, insurance premiums, amusement activities, and betting, and typically make up a relatively small and volatile portion of state and local and, to a lesser extent, federal tax collections. es on his beautiful new yacht by buying and keeping it in Rhode Island.
One of the legislators who made Rhode Island safe for yachtsman is Rep. Patrick Kennedy. Recognizing that when luxury taxA tax is a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities. es on yachts were enacted as part of the 1990 budget deal, they hurt the Rhode Island boat industry, he fought in Congress for more pro-yacht legislation in 1998 and 1999. As he described it in the pages of the Tax Foundation’s Tax Features:
The centerpiece of the legislation is a 20-percent tax creditA tax credit is a provision that reduces a taxpayer’s final tax bill, dollar-for-dollar. A tax credit differs from deductions and exemptions, which reduce taxable income, rather than the taxpayer’s tax bill directly. to anyone who buys a new custom luxury vessel, of at least 50 feet in length, in the United States. For example, if an individual purchases a $250,000 custom yacht, that person will receive a credit against his federal income taxes of $50,000.
Senator Kerry’s yacht would have qualified, but alas, the majority House Republicans didn’t support Kennedy’s bill.
When it comes to voluntary tax payment, Massachusetts has a record of asking but not receiving. When voters in a 2000 referendum cut the income tax rate from 5.9% to 5.0%, the legislature told the Department of Revenue to include a line on subsequent income tax forms that would give taxpayers the option of paying at the old, higher rate if they wanted to. In 2006, 3.24 million personal returns were filed in Massachusetts, and 1,162 people actually opted to pay the higher rate, bringing in a total of $189,143 in extra tax revenue. As you can tell from the small amount collected, Senator Kerry wasn’t one of those volunteers.Share