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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Friday, April 17, 2009

The debate begins

I started to really question that validity of the tax-free New Hampshire argument one day when I tried to find a parking space in the Wrentham outlet mall -- jammed to the gills with a huge number of cars bearing Rhode Island licenses plates.

A quick check determined Rhode Islanders pay a 7 percent sales tax. In Connecticut and Vermont, its 6 percent. In New York it ranges from 7 to 8.75 percent. And for the record, they all have income taxes and, unlike Massachusetts, the levy is spread out based on income rather than assessed at a flat rate.

We all know "tax-free" New Hampshire has no sales or income tax. But do we know about the town tax? The local education tax? The state education tax? The county tax? The dividends and interest tax? We also know that the Live Free or Die State hits you up every time you use gasoline to buy cigarettes and alcohol.

And tolls? They hit you up simply for the have to pass through their state on the way to Maine.

All things to consider as we start see rumblings about adding a penny on the sales tax (which I admit sounds a lot smaller than a 20 percent increase.)

To hear it told the entire state of Massachusetts has moved to New Hampshire to avoid our heavy tax burden. They also moved to get hit with crushing property taxes and poor to non-existent services. And they couldn't even save the state's landmark Old Man in the Mountain when it fell apart from old age (a somewhat fitting metaphor).

Good luck to them -- more for the rest of us hearty souls who stayed put.

These are all important point to keep in mind as we start to hear about higher sales taxes, gasoline taxes and casino gambling revenues. We have two choices: we can have a rational argument, buttressed by facts, on what services we value and how we best pay for them.

Or we can turn into New Hampshire.

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Blogger dan bosley said...

I agree that we should have a rational conversation about taxes, with key word being rational. However, we also need to take into consideration that a penny on the sales tax raises $750 million and that still leaves a structural deficit of $2.8 billion. We need to have a discussion over how we deliver state services, how we expand our economy, and what we really need for state services in this economy.
I don't think people yet realize how much this global recession has impacted our ability to raise revenues and fund services

April 17, 2009 7:40 AM  
Blogger Judy Meredith said...

Join our Virtual Rally for Adequate, Balanced Revenues. Massachusetts has worked for decades to build a system of public structures that keep our communities safe and healthy, educate our children, and draw businesses to our state.
On Wednesday, the House Ways and Means Committee released its version of our state budget. In an effort to avoid raising state taxes, the Committee proposes to dramatically cut those public structures in a time when we all rely on them more than ever.
Next week, our legislators will be considering amendments (due today) to OUR budget. Debate starts on April 27th and is expected to end on Friday May 1. We expect amendments to our tax code to be taken up on Monday the 27th. Now is the time to tell your legislators that you support an adequate, balanced tax package that addresses both our structural deficit and stabilizes all of the public programs that we depend on!
Take a Pledge to recruit at least 5 people to participate in this Virtual Rally by:
1. Calling, writing or emailing your own legislative delegation and tell them that you support an Adequate, Balanced tax package that both addresses our structural deficit and stabilizes the public programs that our communities need more than ever in a time of crisis!
2. Include in your organizational action alerts asking your members to call about restoring your issue, a bolded message on the need for new state revenues. We can’t ask for our programs to be restored out of thin air. We need new revenues. Make sure you emphasize how your program, along with other state and local programs are important to the health of your local community!)
3. Pass it on via Facebook, email, or via your personal list serves. Ask your members and friends to talk to at least five other friends and neighbors. Once you and they have called legislators, ask them to Twitter about it with the tag: #MassRevenues
• Don't know who your legislators are? Visit: http://www.wheredoivotema.com
• Want to look at a preliminary analysis of our state budget? Visit: http://www.massbudget.org/

• Other questions? Contact us: info@onemassachusetts.org

April 17, 2009 4:34 PM  
Blogger Chris Rich said...

I lived in Portsmouth between 1991 and 1995 and soon discovered that, in New Hampshire, T-A-X is spelled F-E-E in some strange twisted contraption of nickle and diming to death.

Just tracking revenue streams must be fairly expensive and the town taxes are fairly exorbitant.

At the end of the day we have a culture of money grubbing whiners who want services but only if they are free in the new American dream of something for nothing forever.

April 17, 2009 7:49 PM  

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