By Bob Katzen
The House 29-130, rejected an amendment giving cities and towns the option to impose on the buyers a tax between .5 percent and 2 percent on the purchase of real estate to be used by the city or town’s Municipal Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Purchases by government entities or charitable organizations would be exempt. Cities and towns would have the power to exempt certain sales including sales to any state or local government or charitable organization; to seniors over 62 years; to low income buyers and to a purchase by a family member.

“This would provide cities and towns with the option of creating their own real estate transfer fees to fund local affordable housing projects,” said Rep. Mike Connolly (D-Cambridge), the amendment’s sponsor. “All of the proceeds raised by the fee would remain with the municipality to fund its own affordable housing programs. I filed this amendment because it could help cities and towns capture some of the value that is created by luxury or high-end commercial real estate transfers for the purpose of funding local affordable housing programs.”

“Last session we approved a $1.8 billion affordable housing bond bill [and] we are making key investments,” said Rep. Ken Gordon (D-New Bedford). “A real estate transfer tax is not going to solve our affordable housing crisis, moreover it can drive up the cost of housing by tacking on an additional fee that low, moderate- and middle-income home buyers cannot afford. In this time when we are facing a situation of emergency due to the pandemic, this is just not the appropriate time to consider this amendment.”

“The China Pandemic has unleashed a spreading virus of stealth tax increases while few are looking,” said Chip Ford, Executive Director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. “Like whack-a-mole they are a challenge to keep up with even for those paying close attention.

A sudden sneak attack on Proposition 2½ buried deeply within the Senate transportation bond bill; a quiet invitation for Gov. Baker’s Transportation Climate Initiative to be disguised, its 26 cents-per-gallon gas tax hike and other tax increases commingled into a separate climate mitigation bill; an attempt to add another deeds excise tax on top of the state’s, this one payable to municipalities,” Ford added. “Fortunately, this stealth deeds excise tax amendment was soundly defeated in the House’s ‘affordable housing’ bill, which ironically would have made housing even less affordable. We hope the other stealth taxes suffer the same fate. Taxpayers beware: The tax-and-spend caucus on Beacon Hill has broken its leash.”

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