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Discrimination In Taxation Is Okay

In Massachusetts, there is a constitutional mandate that there be no discrimination between taxpayers. In 1978 the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was amended to allow for an exception to this rule. That amendment allowed the assessment of four classes of REAL PROPERTY and each class could be taxed differently. These classes are determined to be (1) commercial (2) industrial (3) residential and (4) open space. Generally commercial and industrial properties are taxed at a higher rate. It is the practice in the Commonwealth to tax PERSONAL PROPERTY at the higher commercial and industrial real property tax rate. In the case of Verizon v. Boston Board of Assessors, 475 Mass. 826 (2016), Verizon appealed challenging this form of taxation stating that it was unconstitutional to tax its personal property at the higher real property tax rate. The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts held that the taxing of personal property at the higher real property tax rate was constitutional. The reasoning is that this is a constitutional question that must be interpreted broadly and that taxing personal property as real property is in keeping the general purpose of the amendment.

 

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