It’s usually never a good thing to have your name added to a law, either officially or unofficially. Yet that’s exactly what’s happened to Country-Pop music über-megastar Taylor Swift. As reported by The Washington Examiner on March 20, 2015, the Pennsylvania-born songstress has found her name unofficially attached to the latest tax scheme recently unveiled by Rhode Island’s Democrat governor.
With the Ocean State’s Governor Gina Raimondo proposing a new statewide property tax on second homes worth at least $1 million tacked on to her proposed budget, now popularly known as the Taylor Swift Tax, it hasn’t really gone over all that well with more than a few. Citizens ranging from smaller government advocates; to real estate agents; to her legion of fans, better known as Swifties, have blasted not only the Guv, but also the heavily Democratic General Assembly (both State Senate and House of Representatives), who are widely expected to pass the proposed second property tax.
Little Rhody faces a budget deficit of between $190-$200 million. If and when the additional tax increase is made into law, the most the state’s Democrat honchos can hope to pull in is an estimated $12 million.
While Swift dropped a cool $17.75 million in cash to purchase an 11,000 square foot, eight bedroom, five level sea-side mansion in the very upper crust village of Watch Hill, she isn’t alone in snapping up the area’s available swanky digs. That’s what has Bruce Lane, president of the Rhode Island Association of Realtors tilting to the nervous side. In an interview with a local radio station 630 WPRO, Lane opined that targeting “wealthy homeowners from Connecticut, New York, and elsewhere with additional taxes would discourage future out-of-state buyers from considering making Rhode Island their home away from home and investing in the local economy.”
Without even bringing up the small army of workers wealthy out-of-staters employ to cook, clean, landscape and provide security for their vacation homes, Lane also pointed out “They come into the local economy, they spend money; they spend money in the restaurants, they spend money shopping, and then they go back to their homes wherever they are coming from.” He also pointed out that while out-of-state homeowners may not be able to vote in Rhode Island election, they certainly can vote with their wallets by dumping their vacation homes.
Despite particularly groan-worthy puns, Paul Blair, the state affairs manager at Americans for Tax Reform, stated, “Gov. Raimondo would like Ocean State residents to simply ‘Shake It Off’ with regards to her new Taylor Swift Tax.” Additionally, Blair added, “But, much as Swift has abandoned country music, this tax hike will have the effect of leaving swaths of ‘Blank Space’ throughout Rhode Island as small business owners and retirees opt for more friendly states who aren’t engaging in this petty class warfare that will do little to solve the state’s massive $200 million overspending problem.”
But perhaps the most logical comment came from Rob Adamire, who took to the Facebook page of WGAL News Channel 8 of the Susquehanna Valley, Pa. As the apparent Swifter stated, “I’m sick of seeing people that have become successful in their lives getting taxed just for being successful and making more money than the rest of us.” Perhaps putting to bed forever the claim that the rich don’t pay their fair share of taxes, CNBC reported in late 2013 that the top 40 percent of earners don’t pay most of the individual income taxes. They pay them all, plus an extra six percent. As CNBC explained, “How does someone pay negative taxes? The CBO’s formula offsets whatever taxes are paid with ‘refundable tax credits.’ Some of these are due to ‘government transfers’ of money back to the taxpayer in the form of social security and food stamps.”