Friday, January 02, 2009

Rental Room Tax Looming (Updated)

There is legislation afoot that will impose a 9.7% 'room' tax on seasonal rentals on the Cape (and all of Massachusetts). The state legislation to allow the towns to impose this tax is a near certainty. The towns may then impose the tax at their respective Town Meetings (Eastham's is May 4th). The 9.7% tax will be split, with the state getting 5.7% and the towns getting the remaining 4%. The purpose is to simply collect more money to cover budget shortfalls.

The discussion about this bill centers on 3 areas. Firstly, will this tax 'hurt' the summer rental business? Since most rental landlords want to keep their weekly rentals fees level (or slightly more) with 2008, the tax will be on top of the rental fees. The Outer Cape will then be 10% less competitive that other locations. This will hurt.

Secondly - Who will collect this tax? The current discussion is that the local rental agencies won't be collecting the fees, since they only represent a fraction of the total rental homes. Then who? and How?

Lastly - the vote. The vast majority of the landlords who own rental property on the Outer Cape don't live here. Therefore they will not get to vote at the town meetings. The taxes will be imposed by the folks who live in the towns, but they will not have to pay. This is certainly unfair to the rental homeowners.

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