John Kerry’s not alone in dodging Massachusetts taxes.
John Kerry is the gift that keeps on giving, a cornucopia of contradictions and hypocrisy. After flip-flopping his way to defeat in the 2004 presidential race, he is still doing the opposite of what he says everyone should do, and it is still getting him into trouble.
Last week the Boston Herald reported that in March Kerry registered his $7 million yacht not in Boston, where he lives, but in Newport, R.I. Kerry’s office has said the Rhode Island registration had nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that Rhode Island has no sales or use tax on boats, but Massachusetts has both.
The Herald’s public service here was not to expose Kerry as a hypocrite. Kerry needs no help doing that. In 2004, he said people earning more than $200,000 should pay more in taxes, but here he is dodging taxes on a $7 million yacht. He also said it was immoral to move American manufacturing jobs overseas. But he had his custom-built yacht made in New Zealand. The real public service in the Herald story was to expose just how awful Massachusetts taxes are.
The state has a 6.25 percent sales and “use” tax on most everything, not just boats. If you live in Massachusetts and buy a product in sales-tax-free New Hampshire, where I live, Massachusetts expects you to pay a tax just for the privilege of using it. And the state is aggressive about pursuing that tax.
Last year, Massachusetts tried to order a regional tire chain doing business in neighboring states, Town Fair Tire, to charge the state’s sales tax on tires purchased by Massachusetts residents at New Hampshire stores. In the 1990s, the state successfully forced Circuit City to pay sales taxes on items stored in Massachusetts but purchased in another state.
In the past, Bay State tax collectors aggressively went after residents who registered their cars and bought liquor in New Hampshire. In the 1970s, New Hampshire Gov. Meldrim Thomson sent state troopers to arrest Massachusetts tax agents who were parked (Thomson said “loitering”) in New Hampshire Liquor Store parking lots to record the license plate numbers of Bay Staters buying N.H. booze.
Massachusetts has lowered a lot of taxes since earning its “Taxachusetts” label, but its taxes still send people over the border for all sorts of activities. A lot involve avoiding the sales and use tax. And those tax dodgers include many of the Democratic public officials who support high taxes.
Last year, a Massachusetts resident saw Massachusetts state Rep. Michael Rodrigues walk out of a New Hampshire liquor store with a box of booze. The poor representative had driven there in his personal car, which bears his official legislative license plates. It turns out that Rodrigues had voted earlier that year to raise the state’s sales tax to 6.25 percent. Months later, he was in New Hampshire (along with thousands of fellow Bay Staters) dodging the very sales tax he had voted to raise.
Earlier this month, former U.S. Rep. Marty Mehan, D-Mass., now president of the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, was caught by the Lowell Sun coming out of a New Hampshire liquor store with two bottles of wine — a savings of nearly $5 in taxes.
It’s not that John Kerry is a hypocrite. It’s that the entire political class in Massachusetts is a bunch of hypocrites. They support high taxes, except when given any opportunity to dodge them.
They don’t really believe everyone should have to pay 6.25 percent to the state on every purchase. They simply find it a convenient way to raise revenue. If they believed that their high taxes were moral and just, they would pay them, not dodge them.
With the Obama administration, the story of tax-dodging advocates of high taxes has become familiar to the nation. To those of us who live near Massachusetts, it’s an old, old story.
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H/T to National Review Online