Eating up deficits
with depleted coffers forcing belt-tightening at all levels of government, it would make sense that officials, especially at the local level, would grab onto any chance to pick up a few more pennies to avoid service cuts.
But like their Beacon Hill counterparts, many municipal officials are leery of any additional tax, particularly if it puts them at a competitive disadvantage.
According to the Department of Revenue, only 108 of the state’s 352 communities have adopted the .75 percent local option surcharge on the state meals tax approved by the Legislature a year ago. According to the Massachusetts Municipal Association, at least 10 other municipalities have flatly rejected the surcharge. The remainder have either taken no action or, perhaps, quietly considered it and then thought better of asking their residents and visitors to pony up an extra 7.5 cents when purchasing a $10 pizza.
The early adopters are concentrated in Greater Boston and areas of Cape Cod and western Massachusetts. Boston stands to gain the most from the surcharge, an extra $11.3 million over the course of a full year, while Cambridge will net $1.9 million, Worcester $1.2 million, and Nantucket $494,000. DOR officials estimate the surcharge could generate $57.6 million a year if all cities and towns adopt it.
Foxborough officials, with Gillette Stadium and Patriot Place accounting for a good portion of the estimated $305,000 the town could generate from the surcharge, declined to approve the local option, fearing it would drive diners to adjacent towns without the tax. Town Meeting members in Plymouth approved levying the surcharge in an attempt to pull in $427,000, but the issue was subsequently placed on the ballot where voters rejected it during the special election in January.The next deadline for cities and towns to adopt the tax is Aug. 31.
Source: Massachusetts Department of Revenue and Massachusetts Municipal Association