The city of Boston’s annual budget is around $1.8 billion.
Fifty-eight percent of the city’s revenue comes from property taxes (you’re welcome!). Another 28% comes from state aid (includes lottery revenues, I believe). The rest of it comes from fees (parking tickets, anyone?) and excise taxes.
Boston’s revenue from the motor vehicle excise tax makes up the majority of this amount (approximately $44.7 million), with hotels and motels coming in second ($21.9 million), and jet fuel third ($15 million). All of these taxes are regulated, collected, and monitored by the state: after the state has collected the taxes, it remits the funds back to the locality where they were collected.
From 1995 to 2002, gross property tax receipts in Boston grew 42.6%.
But, it turns out, Bostonians don’t have it so bad. At least, not when you compare it to other cities in the United States.
Denver imposes a lodgers tax, a telecommunications tax, a franchise tax, a car rental tax, a food and beverage and liquor stores tax, a facilities development admissions tax, and an aviation fuel tax, among others, in addition to its sales tax, property tax, and occupation tax.
San Francisco imposes a business license tax, a real property transfer tax, a utility users tax, a parking tax, and a transient occupancy tax, along with a sales tax and an income tax (not to mention a state-collected property tax that benefits the city).
Chicago imposes more than a dozen taxes.
New York City lists twelve separate taxes in its budget plus an additional line for “other taxes.â€?
In addition to a property tax, a sales tax, and an occupation tax, Seattle levies an admissions tax and a utility tax on seven different types of services; it also lists a separate line in its budget for “other taxes.”
Atlanta imposes a hotel/motel tax, an alcohol tax, a public utility tax, a car tax, and an insurance premium tax in addition to its property tax and sales tax.
Boston wants to generate new tax revenue in one (or more) of these ways:
Add a local restaurant meals excise tax on top of the state’s 5% meals tax; add a parking excise tax (amount unknown); or, add a 50-cent surcharge to all movie and entertainment tickets.
In addition, the state’s governor recently proposed allowing Massachusetts cities to tax telecommunications companies, and the city’s mayor has also floated the idea of adding a local 1% sales tax on top of the state’s 5% sales tax.
What do you think?