SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

July 5, 2013

Letter: CPA surcharge was overstated

To the editor:

I find the story “CPA takes effect in Salem” (Salem News, July 1) quite misleading in its description of the plan, enough so as to be alarming to the taxpayer who may have forgotten the details of the plan. First, the plan is funded not only by a surcharge on property taxes but also by a statewide CPA Trust fund to which citizens of all towns in Massachusetts contribute through fees paid to the Registry of Deeds. Salem can now access these funds for its CPA projects, thanks to voter approval of the plan. Secondly, the phrase “property tax surcharge of 1 percent” is technically accurate but easily misinterpreted. It is not 1 percent of the applicable property value (as a reader could easily infer from the article), but rather, it is a 1 percent surcharge to the tax itself.

The $100,000 deduction would bring the applicable value of a $300,000 home down to $200,000 as the article properly states. Left with only these numbers, the reader could logically infer that the annual 1 percent “surcharge” would amount to $2,000 (ouch!). In fact, the basic annual property tax on the $200,000 (at a tax rate of $16.38 per $1,000) is $3276, and the CPA “property tax surcharge of 1 percent” on that is only $32.76 (per year). This pittance per owner gains us access to the CPA Trust Fund into which we have been paying with Registry of Deeds fees for years.

I wish the CPA Committee well in its important work.

Hale Bradt

Salem

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