Controversial Boston transfer tax bill advances


Left to right: Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and South Boston Senator Nick Collins with Boston City Hall (Getty, City of Boston, MA Legislature)

Boston may soon raise taxes on real estate sales.

The city council introduced a bill this week that would impose a transfer fee of up to 2% on real estate sales over $2 million and funnel the money into affordable housing programs, WBUR reported.

The bill has drawn opposition from lawmakers who say now is not the time to add taxes and the burden would be passed on to tenants.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu proposed the bill in January. Wu said housing costs are the top concern for residents, though apparently she wasn’t referring to residents who can afford $2 million homes.

Wu’s office estimated that the transfer tax, which sellers would pay, would raise nearly $100 million a year for affordable housing.

South Boston Sen. Nick Collins would rather find income or savings elsewhere. He said the bill “would take a step in the wrong direction of tax increases, instead of prioritizing our spending or seeing what we have to do in terms of revenue generation which is already within the authority municipalities,” the newspaper reported.

The Collins neighborhood includes the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Malnea Cass Boulevard, known as “Mass and Cass”. The two-block stretch is the site of an encampment of about 160 people without accommodation. There was a spike in violent incidents there over the summer.

Collins told WBUR his priority was to resolve the crisis at Mass and Cass.

Cities just outside of Boston, such as Brookline and Somerville, are also considering real estate transfer tax legislation.

Although Boston’s proposal has passed through the legislature’s revenue committee, its fate is precarious. The House and Senate will debate the proposal in informal sessions. If even a legislator objects to hearing the bill on the floor, he will die.

Cailley LaPara


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