Monthly Archives: August 2016

What if Massachusetts ditched Eastern Standard Time?

By Jacob Bogage

The Boston skyline. (Robert E. Klein/AP)

Buried deep at the bottom — section 136 — of Massachusetts state legislature Bill H.4569 are two paragraphs that could make the Bay State travel in time.

The legislature has agreed to explore switching time zones, moving from Eastern Standard Time to Atlantic Standard Time — an hour ahead of the rest of the East Coast — for four months starting in the middle of November.

The bill, signed by Gov. Charlie Baker (R), creates a legislative commission to study the proposal.

Boston and other parts of the state are so far east that in winter, it gets dark really early, residents complain. How early? The first two weeks of December, the sun sets at 4:12 p.m. The latest sunrise that month is 7:13 a.m. That’s a lot of darkness.

“Any way you slice it, it’s going to be about nine hours of daylight and 15 hours of darkness,” said Tom Emswiler, 36, of Quincy, Mass. He submitted the study request to the legislature as a “bill by request,” a mechanism that allows residents to submit bills to the state legislature independent of elected officials.

Emswiler is a Virginia native and spent six years in the District before moving to Boston in 2011. When winter rolled around that year, he nearly hibernated, he said, because of how long nighttime seemed to last. He said he’d be willing to sacrifice an hour of early morning light for a little more on his commute home.

If the state decided to make the change to Atlantic Standard Time, which parts of Canada and some Caribbean islands also observe, it’d give Massachusetts residents a sunlight happy hour, even in the depths of winter.

But even state Sen. John F. Keenan (D-Quincy), who introduced the bill on Emswiler’s behalf, is undecided on a measure that would put …read more


The no-win game of Apple’s taxes

By Jim Tankersley

There was never much doubt that large multinational companies enjoy a great deal of leverage over governments at all levels — local, state, even national — but on Tuesday, European regulators actually quantified it.

European Commission officials allege that Ireland’s government secured 5,500 jobs from Apple by striking a tax agreement that allowed the company to underpay its taxes by $14.5 billion between 2003 and 2014. The arrangement made the company’s effective Irish tax rate no higher than 1 percent over that time.

If it stands, the European ruling would force Apple to pay that $14.5 billion to Ireland. But Irish leaders don’t want the money; they say they will appeal the ruling, as will the company.

You can read that desire to appeal a lot of ways, but here’s the easiest one: A tax-friendly relationship with Apple, and its 5,500 jobs, is worth more to Ireland than $14.5 billion. That’s the minimum value of Apple’s leverage over the country for the period 2003-2014. As a straight calculation, it works out to $220,000 per job, per year.

[Why U.S. taxpayers may pay most of the bill for Apple’s $14.5 billion tax judgment]

That seems like a heavy subsidy for any government to pay a corporation, let alone the most profitable corporation in the history of the world, which Apple happens to be. The City of Boston and State of Massachusetts, by contrast, recently made a controversial deal with General Electric to lure its headquarters away from Connecticut. The state grants and local tax breaks of the deal amount to $145 million over 20 years, and the company …read more