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Kerry’s R.I. docking avoids Mass. tax bill

$7m yacht Isabel in Ocean State for ‘maintenance’

Associated Press / July 24, 2010

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Senator John F. Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, is docking his family’s new $7 million yacht in Rhode Island, allowing him to avoid paying roughly $500,000 in taxes to the cash-strapped Bay State.

If the vessel Isabel were kept at the summer home of the 2008 Democratic presidential nominee on Nantucket or in Boston Harbor near his city residence, he would be liable for $437,500 in state sales tax.

He would also have to pay $70,000 in annual excise taxes.

Rhode Island repealed those taxes in 1993. That has made the state something of a nautical tax haven.

Kerry spokesman David Wade said yesterday that the boat is being kept at Newport Shipyard not to evade taxes, but “for long-term maintenance, upkeep, and charter purposes.’’

Wade said the vessel was designed by Rhode Island boat designer Ted Fontaine and purchased in the state.

It was built in New Zealand by Friendship Yachts.

A Department of Revenue spokesman said Kerry would be liable for Massachusetts taxes if he berthed the boat in the Bay State within six months of its purchase.

If the Isabel were brought to Massachusetts after that period, the state would have to decide whether to pursue the taxes.

Massachusetts, like most other states, has been grappling with plunging tax revenues.

Last year’s budget decifict was $600 million, and officials are bracing for a $1 billion deficit this year.

The 76-foot sloop has two cabins, a pilot house fitted with a wet bar, and cold wine storage, according to the Boston Herald, which first reported its Rhode Island berthing.

The boat derives its moniker from the middle name of Kerry’s mother and the name his wife, Teresa Heinz, planned to give a daughter. Instead, she had three sons.

Coast Guard registration records show the vessel is owned by Great Point LLC, a corporation based in Pittsburgh, Heinz’s longtime home.

The millionaire heiress to the Heinz ketchup fortune is a philanthropist and environmentalist.

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