On November 30th, the Weymouth Town Council voted to reduce the amount of extra property taxes businesses pay under the town’s tax classification. Congratulations to our affiliated Weymouth Chamber of Commerce that led the fight on this important issue. Weymouth Chamber Chairman Dave Robinson spoke eloquently on behalf of all Weymouth businesses at the public hearing. Several Councilors referenced the years of advocacy by the Weymouth and South Shore Chambers of Commerce in voicing businesses concern about the unfair tax burden to small businesses.
The Board of Assessors originally recommended a shift of 45% rather than the current 55%. That recommendation was rejected by a 6-3 vote. Council President Patrick O’Connor, and Councilors Ed Harrington and Rebecca Haugh supported the Assessors’ recommendation and fairer treatment. Although there were a series of conflicting proposals and votes those three Councilors were the most vocal in expressing the need to change the town’s business climate.
Ultimately the shift was changed from 55% to 50% by a 6-3 vote. What does the 50% ratio and last night’s vote actually mean? The actual dollars mean relatively little but the symbolism is huge for Weymouth. Town leaders sent a signal they understand the town needs to become more aggressive in attracting and keeping businesses in order to broaden its tax base. Tax burdens are only one part of the equation in deciding where to locate or expand but they are a measure of how “business friendly” a community is in its attitudes towards business growth. Frankly Weymouth has suffered in the past with a perception that they have not been serious about expanding the tax base and welcoming new businesses. We think the series of recent actions including re-zoning at The Landing; changes at SouthField and even last night’s recognition that businesses have been unfairly taxed are all positive steps in signaling Weymouth’s commitment to a stronger business climate and a stronger community.
Below are examples of how the numbers work. These were provided by the Board of Assessors. The comparison represents a commercial property worth roughly twice as much as a home. Business subsidizes residential taxes by paying 50% more than they would under a unitary tax system. That does not translate to an equal savings or tax reduction for home owners because residential property makes up more than 75% of the tax base. Under a unitary tax with no shift the commercial property worth twice as much as the home pays twice as much in taxes. In a 50% split the business owner sees a 50 % increase in her tax but the homeowner only sees a 9% decrease in his tax bill. As seen in this example tax splits create an unbalanced extra burden for businesses with only a relatively modest reduction for homeowners.
residential property 320,500 commercial property 635,000
Estimated tax bill
equal rate & 0% shift
shift as approved
current 55% split 45% recommended but rejected 4,512
4,064 4,147 8,940