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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Old chestnuts die hard

The news is so old and unremarkable it failed to find a spot in the news hole-challenged Saturday edition of the Globe. But a new study finds that yet again, Taxachusetts is a doddering old myth that gets revived every time we try to have a discussion about services and how to pay for them.

Anyone who wants to check out the Tax Foundation's annual report will discover the Bay State ranks in the middle, in 28th place, is terms of state and local tax burdens. And the report finds that burden is increasing nationally -- probably because of the Bush tax cuts and the soaring home values that take property taxes up with them.

Taxachusetts reached its peak in 1980, the year that Proposition 2 1/2 hit the scene. The law has worked fairly well, even from the standpoint of this skeptic, thanks largely due to the continued run-up in values that fed the local tax base. But the breaking point has been reached and it's time to deal with a law that was right for its time -- 27 years ago.

It's also interesting to note that Massachusetts indeed ranks in the top 10 nationally (No. 7 ) thanks to an ever-increasing federal tax burden (No. 4 overall). Again, pure speculation, but I suspect the alternative minimum tax (aka the Blue State Tax) that eliminates federal deductions for state and local income and property taxes.

So, instead of fighting Beacon Hill, let's try Capitol Hill, where GOP presidents and Congresses have loaded up on us.

There is the alternative of "tax-free" New Hampshire (49th overall, 6th federal). Of course you also pay major league excise taxes on booze and butts and highway tolls every 30 feet. And a town tax, local education tax, state education tax and a county tax ranked among the nation's highest.

Oh, and in case you were wondering about the Tax Foundation's leanings -- these are the folks who bring you Tax Freedom Day calculations.

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