WASHINGTON — Former US representative Ron Paul has a warning for Americans after the Boston Marathon bombings, and it may come as a surprise.
The prominent libertarian says citizens should perhaps be more frightened by the police response to the attack — which killed three and injured scores more — than by the explosions themselves.
In an article called “Liberty Was Also Attacked in Boston,” the former Republican representative and two-time presidential candidate compares the intense April 19 search for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to “scenes from a military coup in a far off banana republic.”
“The Boston bombing provided the opportunity for the government to turn what should have been a police investigation into a military-style occupation of an American city,” Paul writes. “This unprecedented move should frighten us as much or more than the attack itself.”
Paul argues that the Boston case sets a dangerous precedent, recounting scenes of “paramilitary police riding in tanks and pointing automatic weapons at innocent citizens.”
“Once the government decides that its role is to keep us safe, whether economically or physically, they can only do so by taking away our liberties,” Paul writes. “That is what happened in Boston.”
During the search, authorities encouraged residents in the Boston area to stay inside their homes.
It created surreal scenes on the Friday after the attack, with eerily quiet streets.
Governor Deval Patrick last week defended the decision to shut down the Boston area.
“I think we did what we should have done and were supposed to do with the always-imperfect information that you have at the time,” Patrick said at a news conference Friday.
— MATT VISER
WASHINGTON — Massachusetts seniors can reduce their local property taxes by up to $1,000 a year by stacking library books, filing papers at city hall, painting fire hydrants, or doing other volunteer work in their communities.
But what municipalities view as a tax break for fixed-income seniors is viewed by the Internal Revenue Service as something else: taxable income.
It creates what local officials have long considered a disconnect, by levying federal income taxes on the value of municipal tax breaks.
Seeking a remedy, Representative Niki Tsongas, the Lowell Democrat, plans to introduce a House bill next week that seeks to strengthen the Commonwealth’s senior volunteer corps by prohibiting the IRS from treating the tax abatement as earned taxable income.
The state’s Senior Citizen Property Tax Work-Off Abatement Program was passed by the Legislature in 2002 and allows local jurisdictions — who participate voluntarily — to forgive up to $1,000 for citizens over 60 who provide free services to the city.
But the US tax code defines taxable income as “all income from whatever source derived, including compensation for services,” and a property tax credit earned through volunteering is treated as such compensation.
Tsongas, who will announce her plans at Lowell Elder Care on Tuesday, said that leaders of the communities she represents have said they would like to participate in the program, but cannot afford the manpower the IRS paperwork demands.
— JULIA EDWARDS