The differential tax issue

Wellfleet’s selectmen have voted 4-1 not to follow Truro and P’town in giving fulltime residents a break through a residential tax exemption. It’s not clear why they think Wellfleet locals are in such a different economic situation from the neighboring towns that we couldn’t benefit from such a measure.

But since non-residents in attendance at the September 12th hearing far outnumbered residents, maybe Wellfleet residents agree with the selectmen.

One selectmen read a letter signed by 20 non-residents saying that because they received that benefit at home, they could not in good conscience deny it to those who call Wellfleet home. That logic did not move the non-residents in attendance or the four selectmen, including the one who read the letter.

Non-residents often, while protesting their love for the town, insist that they are all for improving the lot of locals having a hard time of it financially, just not this way. Differential taxing is “unfair” and “divisive.” It would be refreshing to hear them go beyond that lip service. Our part-timers include a lot of smart and progressive people. If this attempt at a more progressive taxation is not the way, how about coming up with a better way, one that amounts to more than a “drop in the bucket” (a phrase with which both sides dismiss the tax exemption benefit)?

This is a two-thirds ghost town (about two-thirds of the houses empty for two-thirds of the year), in which the part-time ghosts are on average, simply in being able to afford and maintain a second home here, considerably better off than the local warm bodies living in one-third of the houses. How about a joint resident and non-resident commission on coming up with a serious plan to address thia situation that the residential tax exemption was designed to address.


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