Opinion: Complicated new tax will hurt tourism

Leave it to our state legislators to craft the most cumbersome and excessive short-term rental tax they could have possibly come up with. Instead of divorcing this tax from the hotel/motel tax and imposing a flat-rate statewide tax, there will be different rates based on which town the rental is located in, whether or not the owner has more than one rental in a town and whether or not the town imposes the additional 2.75 percent wastewater treatment add on.

Massachusetts has five states to compete with in New England. Four have flat-rate taxes statewide of 8-9 percent with only Connecticut at 15 percent.

There will be unintended consequences of this legislation. Soon-to-be-retirees, rather than purchasing their future retirement home early and using summer rental income to defray the costs of ownership, will delay that purchase, affecting Realtors. With less demand, property values will likely be affected. Retirees on fixed incomes who supplement their income by renting their home during the summer will have fewer customers.

Vacation renters wanting some time on the beach may find the 15.45-17.45 percent additional tax excessive and look to Ogunquit or Old Orchard Beach in Maine with a 9 percent tax rate. Middle-income families who reduce their vacation expense by not having to eat every meal out will likely cut back on whale watches, day trips to the islands, movies, mini-golf, ice cream or museums.

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