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Tax Breakdown Per Person

What goes out and what comes in when it comes to taxes on the North Shore.

Wondering what goes out to your communities and what comes back? This week we take a quick look at a portion of how people are taxed on the North Shore.
In the previous weeks we have looked at and

Manchester has the most taxes collected per person at $3,600 whereas Lynn has the least at $1,094. State Aid per person is given back to cities and towns. Lynn receives the most money back from the state ($1,535) but Manchester has the least at $40 per person, according to the Department of Revenue. 

The taxes include: personal property taxes, real estate taxes, excise taxes, penalties and interest, payments in lieu of taxes, and other taxes that stay with the local community.

Have a topic you would like to see addressed next Wednesday? Add your suggestion to the comment section below. 

Community Taxes Collected Per Resident Total Taxes Collected  State Aid Per Person Total State Aid To Community Beverly $1,865 $73,711,302 $316 $12,504,579 Boxford $2,762 $22,549,898 $263 $2,143,396 Danvers $2,197 $59,820,784 $259 $7,061,098 Essex $3,085 $10,311,670 $75 $251,132 Georgetown $1,590 $13,870,210 $704 $6,146,685 Hamilton $2,733 $22,553,483 $88 $726,792 Ipswich $2,185 $29,299,593 $395 $5,294,709 Lynn $1,094 $95,795,726 $1,535 $134,368,404 Lynnfield $2,506 $30,163,317 $397 $4,778,019 Manchester $3,600 $18,737,820 $40 $208,445 Marblehead $2,539 $50,689,490 $314 $6,262,166 Middleton $2,215 $20,470,259 $219 $2,026,893 Nahant $2,095 $7,604,009 $230 $835,022 Peabody $1,648 $85,259,490 $486 $25,145,202 Rowley $1,965 $11,448,905 $95 $553,590 Salem $1,756 $72,637,798 $579 $23,966,838 Saugus $1,768 $49,416,893 $276 $7,707,645 Swampscott $2,876 $40,394,360 $273 $3,828,844 Topsfield $2,767 $17,001,120 $277 $1,701,576 Wenham $2,544 $12,155,279 $81 $388,415

Information compiled using data from the Department of Revenue.

* Note: earlier versions of this story listed the incorrect total state aid for some of the towns - not reflecting 2011 data. It has since been fixed.

John Buba January 18, 2012 at 06:16 PM
Another great list. Note how Marblehead, with a low tax rate, was almost at the bottom of the list when sorted by tax rate, now suddenly moves up near the top of the list (8th) when you look at per person taxes. That is why Citizens for Limited Taxation always uses the per capita ranking when comparing Massachusetts taxes to other states. Also towns like Salem and Peabody have large industries which pay taxes at a higher rate. This skews their rate per person even higher. Marblehead has no industry making our tax burden even higher by comparison. No mater how you slice we pay a lot of taxes in Marblehead. Now are we getting all the value for than money? Could we run more efficiently? Who watches the school budget? That will be the subject of a future blog. But looking at the numbers Marblehead is not a bargain by any means.
Uncle Leo January 18, 2012 at 06:47 PM
I guess stats are all in the eye of the beholder. I take the opposite view and find it surprising that Marblehead, as one of the wealthiest towns on the North Shore, is only 8 of 20 in taxes collected per person and even more surpising is 7 of 20 in state aid per person. Why Marblehead collects more in state aid than Saugus, Beverly, Nahant, Danvers and Swampscott is puzzling considering its per capita income is higher than all of them.
Uncle Leo January 18, 2012 at 06:50 PM
Well done to MHD. Clearly a well run town and with connections on Beacon Hill to boot. Makes me a little jealous as a Swampscott resident, where we are 3 of 20 on taxes collected and 11 of 20 on state aid. Ouch.
Tracy January 18, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Can someone check the number for Wenham, please? It should be much closer to Hamilton's (unless the Chapter 70 school funding was attributed all to one town, which may have happened). Along those same lines, what constitutes "state aid" -- Chapter 70 and Cherry Sheet? or just Cherry Sheet?
Tracy January 18, 2012 at 07:17 PM
Also, those towns with high property taxes and low state contributions might want to check out www.taxreformforeducation.com, a grassroots movement to fix the unequal allocation of school funds.
Lynnette Fallon January 18, 2012 at 07:33 PM
Sorry, but this chart is dumb. The taxes collected column on this chart are the local taxes so they stay local—they never “go out.” I think what the author was trying to capture was how much we are taxed by the state in total and how much of that gets back to the municipality through state aid. I have seen efforts in the past at capturing the total income and estimated sales tax paid by residents of different municipalities. All this chart tells you is the ratio between local and state funding of local services on an absolute or per person basis. However, even that has a flaw: these numbers do not include Chapter 70 (state support for public schools), just Cherry Sheet (state support for town government). Chapter 70 dwarfs the Cherry Sheet (miserly as it is), so that omission makes the whole thing misleading. L
John Buba January 18, 2012 at 07:41 PM
How do you conclude "clearly a well run town" from the data? Are the school that much better, are the roads any better? Do we put out fires faster? Is our water cleaner? What is the basis for your comment?
Katie Curley-Katzman January 18, 2012 at 07:49 PM
Lynnette, I'm sorry you don't find the chart useful. If you have a topic or a certain issue you would like us to explore, we are always open to suggestions. Chapt 70 will be something we will be addressing in the coming weeks. We hope to present different data each Wednesday.
David Whelan January 18, 2012 at 08:02 PM
Lies, damn lies, and statistics. There is nothing to conclude from the data. It's incomplete and if it comes from the Commonwealth, probably inaccurate.
John Buba January 18, 2012 at 09:00 PM
Lynette I think you have misread the chart. This chart tells you how much each person "pays" in local property taxes. It is a better indicator of what taxes are like in each town than say the tax rate which is heavily biased by home values. Taxes per person show how much each person “pays” to run the town. Assuming all people have equal value then this common denominator makes the comparison of town to town taxes much fairer because town services are mostly proportional to population (i.e. more people to protect (police /fire), more people to educate (schools), more traffic on the roads, etc.) As for the state aid, that is our money too and the subject for a different day.
Robert Gates (Editor) January 18, 2012 at 09:20 PM
Tracy, I am checking on this.
Michelle Bailey January 19, 2012 at 12:10 PM
What year is this data? Is this for the year ending Dec. 31, 2011 or the state fiscal year ending June 30, 2011? Or is this data for a prior year. This chart shows that local property taxes pay for the 85% or more of all local services exclusive of public education cost. But I think we already knew that. It would be interesting to compare the total state income tax collected by town to the amount of state aid by town.
Katie Curley-Katzman January 19, 2012 at 12:20 PM
Michelle - it's data from the last fiscal year. Thanks for the suggestion - we'll be looking into issues such as these in the coming weeks.
Joe January 19, 2012 at 04:26 PM
The "Total State Aid To Community" value for Lynn looks WAY OFF to me. This chart says that Lynnfield receives almost as much from the state as Lynn? Based on approx population of about 87,000 people @ $1535 pp, aren't we talking about Lynn receiving about $134 million from the state? I think the total shown is missing a couple of digits!
Uncle Leo January 19, 2012 at 04:45 PM
My basis for those comments is the town always seems to have a balanced budget. I cannot remember the last time MHD needed a Prop 2 1/2 override. You have new and renovated schools and your roads are far better than Swampscott's. And you do all this with the lowest tax per person of all comparable towns (except Lynnfield). I'd say that is a pretty well run town.
KlassySalem January 19, 2012 at 06:29 PM
The state aid per person number can't possibly be right for Wenham. More state aid per person than any town other than Lynn? I don't think so.
kerstin locherie February 03, 2013 at 04:55 PM
Agreed, real estate taxes should be income based assessed. If a person owns his or her home out right having no mortgage then the tax should be assessed upon means based metrics. A family having paid off their mortgage are usually older or elderly citizens. Instead of being penalized or forced to move from the community, they should be taxed on their income. Just as Senior or Public housing is assessed. There are many other revenue streams which should be released by the state for taxation. If Gordon College, Gordon Conwell and other institutions were allowed to be taxed along with other lands, which could be used for industry, business or homes, Hamilton would have the lowest real estate tax and still have well funded schools. This is what the state concluded below : "The state owns thousands of properties utilized for many purposes, including farms, forests, parks, DOT easements, vacant land, schools, universities, warehouses -- just a multitude of things," Hays said. "If the land is not serving a useful purpose and probably doesn't have a useful purpose forecast in the near future, we need to put that land back on the tax rolls."
kerstin locherie February 03, 2013 at 04:58 PM
State government should move toward collecting the sales tax on Internet purchases, give state employees a bigger stake in their own health care and drop the "DROP" pension plan that lets workers stay on the job while collecting pensions.Those were among the items listed Thursday as a conservative policy organization presented its billion-dollar legislative wish list.

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