By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

“Can I get out of here, please?”

Today’s Boston Herald front is absolutely hilarious, as U.S. Sen. John Kerry scurries away from reporters who are trying to ask him about his tax-free, $7 million yacht. The Herald broke the story last Friday, but give Kerry credit: it is he who has figured out how to keep it alive.

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  1. something is wrong. Kerry spends $7 mill on a boat made in NZ not even at a new england boat yard. He parks the quote boat in RI for six months to avoid MA taxes. Hillary and Bill spring for $5 mill for their daughter’s wedding. They air condition the party tents. They pay $200,000 for portapotties. What planet are these people on??? How big is their bubble? Cd this stuff be made up??????

  2. Mike Stucka

    Fark headline just came out:
    John Kerry vows to pay taxes on boat swiftly

    Oh, come on. You laughed. Admit it.

  3. Michael Wyatt

    Does seem like Kerry hit the trifecta over the weekend:

    1) In the middle of a drastic economic downturn, springing $7 million for a yacht. It’s his (or actually her) money, so he can do what he wants, but not exactly the most sensible political touch.

    2) Also in said downturn, chooses local designer but then outsources actual construction to New Zealand instead of a New England shipyard. Another deft move.

    3) Finally, tries the end around of local sales tax and ongoing excise taxes by parking boat in RI for six months. Of course in this age of cell phone and $100 video cameras, think the Inside Track girls are going to be swamped with date stamped photos of said yacht in Nantucket and Edgartown any day now.

    If MA DOR is going to pursue the likes of Town Fair Tire over $400 tires bought in NH by MA motorists or chase down some guy registering a car in NH to save $1,250 on sales taxes on a $20,000 car, think they have no choice but to go after an avoidance of a $437,500 sales tax bill. That is, if they want to maintain any sort of credibility with the not so connected tax paying population.

    Sometimes you can’t even make this stuff up.

  4. Steve Stein

    @elsa – At least the Clintons are putting money into the local economy. Nothing wrong with that. And they can’t scrimp on things – Oprah’s coming, after all.

    Kerry’s got no excuse, as far as I can see. More arrogant than dumb, and it’s really really dumb.

    I don’t think I agree with Dan’s assessment of the story, though. Unless Kerry did an immediate mea culpa an paid up, this was going to be multi-day staple for the Herald. It’ll be in “heavy rotation” until Kerry (belatedly) makes it right (or as “right” as he can make it), and probably for days after that.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Steve: Oh, I don’t disagree. It’s just that nothing keeps a story humming along quite like fleeing from the press.

  5. CE Stead

    DK – and how wacky is it that this prime political scandal was broken by the TRACK GALS??? Huge credit for the scoop!

    Also – keep watching the checkbook. My pal Christy Mihos did the same thing, but paid up promptly back in 2006. Kerry keeps mumbling he’ll pay if, when, and maybe the DOR sends him a bill. Hard to believe Kerry is a professional politician.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @CE: All hail the Tracksters. Although they might have gotten tipped off by a certain Republican activist.

  6. Neil Sagan

    Senator John Kerry said today he will voluntarily cut a check to the state of Massachusetts for some $500,000 in sales tax for a yacht he purchased in Rhode Island earlier this year.

    “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 in a statement released this afternoon. “That payment is being made promptly.”

  7. BP Myers

    @Michael Wyatt said: Does seem like Kerry hit the trifecta over the weekend

    It continued into Monday with release of the WikiLeaks documents, showing how treacherous the Pakistanis are.

    Nobody has been more of a proponent than Kerry of making them a partner, sending billions there way.

    Am beginning to wonder if he may have his own Scott Brown out there. We can only hope.

  8. Rick Peterson

    Joe Sciacca has been head honcho for a week and it appears that he has blasted out of the starting gate. When he promised “enterprise reporting”, he wasn’t kidding. If he keeps this up, I may be forced to resume buying the dead tree edition of the Herald.

  9. Aaron Read

    Man, when even Jeff Jacoby comes to your defense, you KNOW you’ve really screwed things up!

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Aaron: “Senator Kerry, welcome to … the dark side. In our world, we appreciate a man who doesn’t pay his taxes. Don’t listen to those fools. All they can do is vote you out of office.”

  10. Michael Wyatt

    So I guess the valuable lesson that all of us contemplating buying a boat is this: in the fall, head down to RI, buy the boat, and “dock” it at the boat yard over the winter. Next spring (after 6 months have passed) bring it on up to MA waters; surely the 6.25% savings on the purchase price should cover your cruising fuel. Just don’t get caught showing off your new boat to folks with cell phone cameras in Nantucket though if you decide to push the 6 month window. Thanks senator for bringing this maneuver to the great unwashed masses’ attention.

  11. Christian Avard

    Massachusetts Liberal raises a good point re: Kerry’s tax-dodging and Curt Schilling’s carpetbagging. Here’s today’s follow-up.

  12. LFNeilson

    While it is certainly egg on the face of the senator, there is a lesson in taxation and economics here. The real story isn’t about JK, it’s about how taxes chase money away. Why would the “average millionaire” keep his yacht in Massachusetts when RI offers berths with much less taxation? It’s the same principle as the little guy driving to NH for a few cases of beer and a new TV, only on a different scale. State taxes must be viewed with an eye to what the neighboring states are charging. How many appliance stores do you find In Mass. within 10-15 miles of the NH line?

    • Dan Kennedy

      @LFNeilson: Very true. But the flip side is to ask what the proper response should be when a state does something nutty like eliminate the tax on yachts? It can quickly become a race to the bottom.

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