Jennifer C. Braceras | Boston Herald | Monday, May 7, 2012 | Op-Ed |
Looks like the Concord crazies are after more than just bottled water. They’re after your paycheck too.
At the tony suburb’s recent Town Meeting, a handful of residents passed a measure endorsing Rep. Cory Atkins’ effort to change state law to allow local governments to impose income taxes — on top of the state and federal income taxes we already pay.
Apparently not content to hurt their local grocery and convenience stores by sending shoppers elsewhere to buy Poland Springs, Concord do-gooders are now telling people to move elsewhere: to buy a house in Sudbury or Acton, not Concord.
Supporters of Atkins’ House Bill 3375 claim that the measure is necessary to reduce the burden of high property taxes.
Sound familiar? It should. Gov. Deval Patrick increased our state taxes allegedly for the purpose of lowering local property taxes.
How’d that work out for us? Yeah, not so well.
But even taking supporters of the bill at their word — that revenues from local income taxes will be used only to lower property taxes — the bill makes no sense.
Substituting income taxes for even a portion of property taxes would have the perverse effect of lowering the tax burden on millionaires who live off investments and reside on large estates, while raising the tax burden on renters and younger workers supporting their families.
And yet, supporters of the measure actually have the audacity to argue that this is about “fairness.” But isn’t this really just another example of the class and generational warfare occurring across the country?
Proponents of additional income taxes trot out retirees who want to remain in their homes but who have seen their property tax burden rise exponentially in recent years. Um, not to be harsh, but many of the people seeking a change in the law are sitting on million-dollar treasure chests! Ever heard of a reverse mortgage? Or downsizing, even?
Property is an asset, not an entitlement. If anyone is going to subsidize it, shouldn’t it be the people who stand to inherit it (the children of the retirees), and not the neighbors?
The fact is, there is nothing unfair about the current system. A person who chooses to own a 5,000 square-foot home on two acres of land should pay more than a person who lives in a smaller home on less property.
The irony, of course, is that the very same people who voted to ban bottled water in order to save the planet also seek to subsidize environmentally inefficient mansions occupied by retirees and well-supported divorcees.
Keep in mind, Concord is one of only a few towns that has reached Chapter 40B’s requirement of 10 percent affordable housing by adding hundreds of new apartments in recent years. Would it be the worst thing in the world for empty-nesters and others who cannot afford their homes to move into brand new environmentally-friendly apartments?
Let’s face it, government is addicted to spending. Conveniently, Atkins’ bill provides the perfect end-run around Proposition 21⁄2 which prevents increases in annual property taxes of more than 2.5 percent without a vote. You see, the bill does not require towns to submit proposed income tax increases to a vote.
In other words, H3375 is a blank check that encourages increased government spending without restraint. And in the long term, it will increase the tax burden of the citizens of any town that chooses to exercise the local option.
If you believe otherwise, Rep. Atkins has a bridge in Concord she’d like to sell you.