Sen. John Kerry's decision to dock his family's new $7 million yacht in tax-free Newport, R.I., instead of in Massachusetts, is getting the onetime presidential candidate some unwanted attention from the Boston media. Kerry clearly isn't enjoying the public relations debacle -- and it's not clear what port 76-foot sloop, the Isabel, will eventually call home.
Kerry, you will recall, is the liberal Massachusetts Democrat who ran against George W. Bush for president in 2004. His yacht is berthed at the Newport Shipyard, but if it were docked in Boston Harbor or at his family's summer home on Nantucket, he would have to pay $437,000 in a one-time sales tax and annual excise taxes of $70,000.
"Let's get this straight," an impatient Kerry told WBZ TV in Boston on Monday. "I've said consistently we will pay our taxes, we have always paid our taxes. It's not an issue, period. . . . There's nothing more to say about it." Pressed by reporters at an event at the South Weymouth Naval Air Station, Kerry then said to his driver, "Can I get out of here, please?" according to WBZ.
A Kerry spokeswoman, Brigid O'Rourke, insisted that the senator "will absolutely pay any and all taxes that he is found to owe." O'Rourke told the Boston Globe, "Whatever the Department of Revenue [a state tax agency] determines that he owes in Massachusetts taxes, he will pay."
Newport, home to historic mansions, jazz and folk festivals and all things nautical, repealed most taxes on pleasure craft in 1993, making it a haven for boaters.
When the Boston Herald broke the story, Kerry's office put out a statement saying the Isabel (complete with two cabins, a pilot house and cold wine storage) was in the Newport Shipyard for "long-term maintenance, upkeep and charter purpose, not tax reasons." The statement also said the Isabel was designed and purchased from a Rhode Island company, but it was reportedly built in New Zealand.
State law says if a resident purchases property out of state but brings it into Massachusetts within six months, it would be subject to state taxes, the Globe said.
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