Sen. Kerry: Mass. boat tax payment 'being made promptly'

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Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., said Tuesday that he will voluntarily pay $500,000 to Massachusetts tax collectors on his new $7 million yacht, a pledge made after state officials began inquiring about whether he had attempted to evade the payment by docking in Rhode Island.

The state Department of Revenue was looking into Kerry's use of the yacht and into reports that it had been spotted repeatedly in Massachusetts since it was registered in March, the Boston Globe reports.

"We've reached out to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue and made clear that, whether owed or not, we intend to pay the equivalent taxes as if the boat's home port were currently in Massachusetts,'' Kerry said. "That payment is being made promptly.''

The state's senior senator has been assailed by questions since the Boston Herald reported Friday that he was docking his yacht, Isabel, in Newport, R.I., allowing him to avoid hundreds of thousands of dollars in Massachusetts taxes. Rhode Island rescinded its sales and use tax on boats in 1993, creating a tax haven for yacht owners.

Residents who buy boats out of state, but plan to use them in Massachusetts, must file a form and pay a use tax, equivalent to the Massachusetts sales tax of 6.25 percent, by the 20th day of the month after they take possession of the boat, according to the Department of Revenue.

Kerry reportedly filed no such form and paid no such tax. If he docked the yacht in Massachusetts, he also would be subject to a $70,000 annual excise tax, payable to the city or town of that home port.

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