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Could Vermont Use A Tax Break?

Are you paying enough, not enough, or none at all? You decide if a break is needed. Seems Vermont has plenty of tax to go around as compared to the rest of the country.



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Hard to say

The story, if you didn't click, is by an economist (Art Woolf) talking about tax capacity, and whether Vermont has room to raise taxes.

The way to compare state taxes fairly (some states have much larger populations than we do) he says, is to look at taxes as a percentage of total income earned in state.

Some key points:

"Vermont’s state and local governments collected 12.29 percent of all the income earned in the state. That compares to 10.59 percent for all states combined. By that measure, Vermont is the fifth highest taxed state in the nation. The only states that are higher are North Dakota (due to its oil and gas revenues), New York, Hawaii, and Maine.

The difference between Vermont and the U.S. is less than 2 percentage points. That may not seem large but every one-tenth of a percentage point difference translates into $30 million in taxes. For example, Massachusetts is the 18th highest taxed state when we measure taxes as a share of income. To get from Vermont’s 12.29 percent tax share of income to Massachusetts’ 10.7 percent share would mean Vermont would have to cut its taxes (and its spending) by $470 million.

At 8.68 percent of income, our neighbor New Hampshire has one of the lowest tax burdens in the nation. It does that by being one of four states with no general sales tax. It’s also one of nine states with essentially no personal income tax and is one of only two states (the other is Alaska) with no sales or income tax. If we wanted to tax at New Hampshire’s level, Vermont would have to reduce our total taxes by nearly $1.1 billion. "

Now, this argument assumes that everyone is getting roughly the same services, benefits, and enjoyment in all locations. But states are complex beasts, and statistics can deceive. For example, Florida and Texas will have extra expenses due to the hurricanes that will show up in budgets for years to come. Vermont rebuilt a substantial portion of its infrastructure after Irene. We all handle health care differently. Vermont doesn't budget for python removal, but Florida does. Florida doesn't budget for snow removal, but we do.

If low taxes were the only consideration in choosing a place to live, Vermont would lose. No one would live here at all. But I think people choose where to live based on a variety of factors.

As for the specific questions SteveJD raises... I'd love to see cuts in what I have to pay. I think federal taxes are too much.I'd be okay with taxes as they are if the other fees for living here were dropped - $70 for a sticker for a car for a year, $50 to affirm your business listing with the Town each year, and so on. That's the stuff that annoys me - even more than taxes.


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