, Salem, MA


February 4, 2014

Letter: Project would help small businesses

To the editor:

Well, it’s that time again. I just received my annual “form of list” from City Hall. For those of you who don’t know what that is, let me explain. About 13 years ago, I received a new tax bill — “personal property tax.” The city now wanted me to pay a yearly tax on everything I own — from every chair in my restaurant down to my kitchen sink, items I paid taxes on when purchasing. Every year this tax got higher and higher on items that had depreciated.

Last year, when I estimated that I was being charged at least seven times more than I should, I filed an abatement. To my surprise, the list I was given at City Hall was not the itemized list I had submitted, but one that was made by someone else listing equipment I had never owned. I explained that in my request. Months later, I received news that I was now being charged about four times more than the value of my belongings. By value, these items are supposed to be listed at yard sale value. Fifteen-year-old restaurant equipment is not worth much. I would be lucky to get $500 from the scrap metal guys if I were to go out of business.

Since opening in 1999, I have seen the meals tax go up, then local meals tax added and a trash fee imposed. In addition there were many increases in the costs of busing, parking and sports for my children attending public schools. Now we have the Community Preservation Act (I would like to see a referendum on that vote) and higher property taxes. I understand the city needs money to fix roads, schools and buildings but I have a problem with the personal property tax, it doesn’t seem fair, and why am I painstakingly producing a list that is ignored by the assessors’ office?

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