One of my Sunday rituals is to attend the morning service at the Unitarian church on Wendell Street. It is usually a very nondenominational sermon on leading a better life interspersed with a few hymns, sung mostly off key, as some of us (including yours truly) are not musically inclined. This is followed by the coffee hour, a time to meet, greet and mingle with the morning's attendees.
That is when I first heard the term: "Taxachusetts."
This is the back story to that word popping up in the conversation. After almost a year of searching, which had at times seemed like a Homerian odyssey, we finally found a piece of land to build our dream house on. Based on our past experience, we were quite prepared for all the permits that were needed before we broke ground. Heck, we were even prepared for the permits needed to get more permits; a necessary evil considering the unspoiled and natural beauty of the Berkshires and the need to preserve it for future generations!
So imagine our surprise when we learned that our location was going to be subject to something called a "view tax." This tax theoretically increases the value of one's property because of the "view,'' and thus results in higher property taxes. I did some research on this tax in other states. It seems that neighboring New Hampshire was a battleground for this tax and said tax was defeated in legislation. Seems they really do believe in their state logo "Live Free or Die."
I have a couple of problems with this tax, however. Assuming, there is a consensus on the aesthetics of the scene outside my window, maybe I should give up my day job. Then I can spend my waking hours admiring the view and waxing poetic in beauteous odes while my family starves and is reduced to eating spaghetti. And can I file for a refund because after a couple of years, I get just plain tired of the rolling hills and spectacular sunsets?
Beauty is also in the eye of the beholder. This tax assumes that everyone, without exception, would find the view breathtaking. What if I am agoraphobic and find the view of great open spaces positively terrorizing? Do I pay less property tax?
Hence the above term coming from one of the more jaded member of our coffee-hour gang. I would add another adverb to this very clever play on words: Crazytaxachusetts.
So in an effort to protest the absurdity of this tax, I will soon propose taxing some items near and dear to the residents of the Berkshires. To be continued.
Dr. Mehernosh Khan is a board-certified physician with a specialty in complementary medicine. He and his wife Karen came to the Berkshires last November.