Massachusetts Senator John Kerry’s love of taxation is fairly robust, even for a Democrat. He has often expounded upon the virtues of allowing the government to take a larger bite of every private citizen’s paycheck in order to stimulate the economy of our great nation (since individuals cannot be trusted to invest in America or make spending decisions that are in step with government agendas). And while he has diligently upheld taxation in his own state, he has recently come under attack for dodging the very taxes he supports again and again, in particular, one that centers on yacht ownership.
That’s right: Senator John Kerry owns a yacht. “Isabel” is a 76-foot pleasure craft that apparently set Kerry back a whopping $7 million dollars. Somehow it just doesn’t seem fair that public servants can afford such luxury, but it appears that marrying up and financing a campaign with the assets of a big-brand heiress can get just about anyone elected. In any case, people are allowed to live as they please, hopefully within their means, and Kerry clearly has the means to purchase a yacht, so more power to him. And yet, there is a catch.
Massachusetts is one of the many states that have sales and excise taxes attached to boat ownership (6.25%, to be precise). By law, Kerry is required to pay somewhere in the neighborhood of $450,000 in sales tax just for purchasing the boat, as well as approximately $70,000 per year in excise tax to own and operate it in the state of Massachusetts. At least he would have to pay that amount if his boat were registered and moored in Massachusetts. In an interesting twist, Kerry has chosen to give his boat permanent residence in nearby Rhode Island, which repealed its Boat Sales and Use Tax in 1993, making it an instant haven for east-coast nautical enthusiasts across the seaboard.
So the senator apparently supports state taxation of luxury items just as long as he can personally evade them. But wait, it gets better. In response to allegations of probable tax-dodging and certain hypocrisy, Senator Kerry’s Chief of Staff has issued a statement that clearly explains the situation. Apparently, the boat is docked in Rhode Island for purposes of maintenance, upkeep, and charter. Oh, if only Massachusetts offered these services, he would happily bring his boat home and pay the tax! And pigs might fly. In addition, Kerry, who has claimed to be a staunch supporter of “buying American” (remember, taxes allow the government to funnel our hard-earned money back into the economy for our benefit), actually purchased his boat in New Zealand. Strike two.
While private citizens are certainly welcome to hang onto their money in any way possible, even by using shady legal loopholes, those that don the mantle of governance should be held to a higher standard, and indeed, the fact that they are answerable to the public necessitates the adoption of certain standards for conduct (one would think). As of late July, the besieged senator had publicly promised to pay all taxes due his state, just as though Massachusetts is the home port for his boat (especially since the luxury craft in question has been frequently spotted in MA waters). And whether it is due to public criticism or inquiries by the Department of Revenue, it’s nice to see that a U.S. Senator is putting his money where his mouth is (and probably choking on it).
Sarah Danielson is a writer for Medical Coding where you can brose medical coding schools and industry jobs.
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