Sen. John Kerry skips town on sails tax

by
July 24, 2010

By Gayle Fee and Laura Raposa, The Boston Herald

Sen. John Kerry, who has repeatedly voted to raise taxes while in Congress, dodged a whopping six-figure state tax bill on his new multimillion-dollar yacht by mooring her in Newport, R.I.

Isabel – Kerry’s luxe, 76-foot New Zealand-built Friendship sloop with an Edwardian-style, glossy varnished teak interior, two VIP main cabins and a pilothouse fitted with a wet bar and cold wine storage – was designed by Rhode Island boat designer Ted Fontaine.

But instead of berthing the vessel in Nantucket, where the senator summers with the missus, Teresa Heinz, Isabel’s hailing port is listed as “Newport” on her stern.

Could the reason be that the Ocean State repealed its Boat Sales and Use Tax back in 1993, making the tiny state to the south a haven – like the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and Nassau – for tax-skirting luxury yacht owners?

Cash-strapped Massachusetts still collects a 6.25 percent sales tax and an annual excise tax on yachts. Sources say Isabel sold for something in the neighborhood of $7 million, meaning Kerry saved approximately $437,500 in sales tax and an annual excise tax of about $70,000.

The senior senator’s chief of staff David Wade denied the old salt was berthing his boat out of state to avoid ponying up to the commonwealth.

“The boat was designed by and purchased from a company in Rhode Island, and it’s based in Newport at the Newport Shipyard for long-term maintenance, upkeep and charter purposes, not tax reasons,” Wade told the Track.

And state Department of Revenue spokesguy Bob Bliss confirmed the senator “is under no obligation to pay the commonwealth sales tax.”

But back in 2006, then-gubernatorial candidate Christy Mihos took some flack for avoiding some $23,000 in Bay State sales tax and $1,320 in local excise taxes by berthing his motor yacht in Rhode Island. But Mihos paid just $475,000 for his 36-foot vessel Ashley and readily admitted that he used the boat at his West Yarmouth summer home.

To read more, visit: http://bostonherald.com/track/inside_track/view.bg?articleid=1269698

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