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The Point: Home Truths


Greetings, Colleagues:

Subject: Home Sales and the Fair Share Amendment

Action Item: Learn the Truth, Vote Yes on 1, Convince Your Friends and Family Also!

As good New Englanders (and fans of Halloween!), we generally try to follow the axiomatic wisdom of Ralph Waldo Emerson that “a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”  That said we are going to take another whack, in this week’s Point, at something we already wrote about fairly recently: Question 1 on the ballot—aka the “Fair Share Amendment.”

This week we are going to try to keep it simple and short, because our anecdotal antennae tell us that the billionaire-funded attack on 1 (Hey Bain Capital! Oh, hi New England Patriots!) has focused its attention on the question of what will happen to people who sell their houses under the new regime proposed by the Fair Share Amendment.  In response to their obfuscations and outright lies, we want to share a few home truths with you.

Here are the basic facts:

  • In the past year, less than 1% of home sales in the Commonwealth would have generated enough of a gain in value to be affected by Question 1
  • Home sellers can take advantage of multiple tax deductions (up to 500K on primary residence, entire cost of major improvements, etc.)
  • Average home affected by Question 1 sold for $3.8 million
  • 99% of us won’t pay more in taxes, even if we sell a home

(Get the breakdown of how few homes in your town would be affected)

Here’s the trustworthy columnist, Yvonne Abraham making this all concrete in the Boston Globe:

If you’re selling your residence, the “millionaire tax” would kick in only if your profit on the place exceeds $1 million. To calculate that profit, take the sale price and subtract whatever you paid for the house, whatever you spent renovating and improving it, some sales fees, and a further allowance of $500,000 if you’re married.

Let’s say you and your spouse buy a house for $500,000 and spend $200,000 to fix it up, and when you retire and downsize you sell it for $2 million. Your profit would be $2 million, minus the $500,000 you paid for the house, minus the $200,000 renovation, minus the $500,000 tax exclusion. So your profit is $800,000 – no millionaire’s tax would apply.

We have great faith that our membership—constituted by scholars, librarians, and teachers—will be able to read against the grain and resist the false narratives being funded and circulated by the selfish forces of reaction.  We probably don’t need to remind you that funding for higher education has declined precipitously since the recession of 2008: “Deep state cuts in funding for higher education over the last decade have contributed to rapid, significant tuition increases and pushed more of the costs of college to students, making it harder for them to enroll and graduate. These cuts also have worsened racial and class inequality, since rising tuition can deter low-income students and students of color from college.”

At UMB we have a special responsibility to take seriously this ballot measure—a once-in-a generation opportunity to turn the tide on the cruel politics of austerity and demand a more expansive future for our students.

This is your union. Please let us know at if you ideas about how to convince colleagues who may still be on the fence on Question 1 to vote yes!


The Communications Committee:

Lynne Benson, Senior Lecturer, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Jessica Holden, Librarian III, Healey Library

Linda Liu, Lecturer, Sociology

Jeff Melnick, Professor, American Studies

For information on the FSU, links to our contract and bargaining updates, and a calendar of events, see the FSU webpage at