Roper: Vermont legislators considering a bevy of new taxes

By Rob Roper

As Vermonters and the businesses that employ us struggle to get back to some sort of economic normalcy, the Vermont House Ways and Means Committee is contemplating raising $167 million in new taxes to offset lost revenue for the Education Fund. The total budget hole is expected to be over $400 million.

Filling these gaps with new or increased taxes is equivalent of throwing an anvil to a drowning man. Telling Vermonters who have lost their jobs, burned through savings, and perhaps gone into debt to survive the government response to COVID-19, that even more is expected of them via confiscatory taxes is unacceptable.

Rob Roper is the president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

Here’s a list of the possibilities discussed during the Ways and Means Committee’s May 7 Zoom meeting:

Raise the sales tax. Rep. George Till (D-Jericho), proposed creating a special, temporary COVID sales tax “surcharge.” Each penny increase above the current 6% level would extract roughly $60 million from Vermonters. And, not for nothing, the last temporary increase of the state sales tax is still in place. Increasing the cost to buy things for people who have who have lost months’ worth of income seems especially cruel.

Expand the sales tax to services. Rep. Till also brought up the idea of expanding the state sales tax to services. Again, this would mean increasing the cost of living for people who have lost significant amounts of income. It would also mean hair salons, carpenters, landscapers, etc. trying to get customers back would have to charge more, and assume a new record keeping/reporting burden at the same time.

“Cloud” tax. Rep. Janet Ancel (D-Calais), chair of the committee, suggested a “cloud tax” online software stored and accessed on the internet (such as, ironically, TuboTax), a sentiment echoed by Rep. Peter Anthony (D-Barre City). A similar proposal last year that would have raised $6 million was ultimately killed (and not for the first time) because it would clearly discourage high-paying, tech-oriented jobs from coming to, staying in, or expanding in Vermont. And we kind of want those.

Tobacco tax increase. Rep. George Till (D-Jericho) suggested increased tobacco taxes by another $1 per pack (total $6.7 million increase). The state tax is already $3.85 on a pack of 25 cigarettes, raising it to $4.85 would really be a case of highly regressive of COVID tax gouging.

Candy Tax. Another Till favorite, a candy tax that would extract $3 million. This is a very complicated tax for retailers as the definition of “candy” is not cut and dry.

Sugar sweetened beverage tax. Till again. Some $25 million extracted from taxes on soda and other drinks.

Tax on clothing. Rep. Robin Schue (D-Middlebury) suggested taxing “luxury” clothing over $150. Currently clothing, deemed a necessity like food, is not taxed in Vermont.

Raise the beer tax. This one suggested by Rep. Emily Kornheiser (D/P-Brattleboro). Put that one on your campaign literature. I dare you!

If you’d like to hear the discussion for yourself, it takes place roughly between the 38 and 48 minute marks here.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.

Image courtesy of Public domain

24 thoughts on “Roper: Vermont legislators considering a bevy of new taxes

  1. These folks must have taken a creative writing somewhere along the way to have come up with these beauties. What’s discouraging is that no where in this dialog is there any discussion of REDUCING spending as a means to close the budget gap. Pathetic!! Hey, Vermonters, you put these clowns in office cycle after cycle.

  2. Why is there and education shortfall if all the schools are closed. Kids at home have their own heat and electricity. Most have internet access and homes without pc’s are very rare. Did they not furlough the teachers that were not needed as schooling by one online instructor can reach many more students . Where did our property tax portion of the school funding go?

  3. The smart one should if they can look the cowards in VT allow them to stay shut down and there ZERO reason for it and the people here keep voting the same people in office every year no matter … look you want to vote for these CLOWN look who rep. VT 3 old bastards that never accomplished anything but picking up their pay check! And the people will elect them again and they will cry again so either change and try something new here or move if you can because this states falling apart and not all of it falls on us but surely those who keep electing the same people in office well your getting what you asked for, So here a thought if anyone is running for office for a second term or anything over that consider voting them out! All three REP. should be gone ! and all those who sit on their asses in the capital should be GONE! You know who has the POWER to change VERMONT WE THE PEOPLE but pouting not going to do it stop listening to the lies they tell you simply put if their headed for a second term think strongly about replacing them and if they have had two term be done with them because if they earned a second fine but none of them deserves what many are getting a free ride to shape our state to their liking not ours! Vote ALL 3 REP OUT send new blood to WASHINGTON put some fear in these people who sit in the capital and then see who has the power. My guess is those 3 do nothing worth Reps have been rigging the elections for years.

    • Gray, you nailed it…..
      The problem is “We The People ” most don’t get it, and the majority that gets
      it, work for Government, Education or Medical field…… Liberals meal ticket !!

      Our three stooges are going nowhere soon…… Pretty Pathetic !!

  4. Spend,spend, spend resulting in tax, tax, tax!!! It’s a vicious cycle. How about CUT, CUT, CUT???? At home, if we want something and we can’t afford it, guess what, we DON’T buy it. It’s not complicated. Last time I looked 2+2=4 not 40.

    • As per your previous insistence, government has all authroity to do whatever it pleases. Would you accept the increases when both Democrat & Republican politicians start saying it’s necessary to fight the Wuhan virus?

    • Is what i have heard repeatedly that Vt has twice as many total gov’t employees, all levels of Gov’t running our lives, as New Hampshire has
      Put that with NH has twice as many citizens as VT,
      and we have to pay 2 X 2 = 4 times as much per citizen / per job !!!!

      If this is confirmed, we have a VERY POWERFUL argument for REFORM of spending, regulating and cost of gov’t employees.

      Let us USE this arguement!!!

  5. Below is a portion of an Op-Ed piece I wrote at the beginning of May. And now, here we are.

    “For more than two decades the liberal democrats and progressives controlling Montpelier have shown us several things. First, they have never met a tax or fee increase they couldn’t fall in love with. Second, their education funding scheme creating a statewide property tax in an attempt to lower property taxes has failed miserably and their only solution to fix the problem is to raise more taxes to put into the dwindling education fund. Lastly, they have shown little to no interest is streamlining government, addressing waste, fraud and abuse or making cuts of any kind.

    Consider a recent quote from Senator Mark MacDonald referring to the state college closings. For decades the state legislature has underfunded our state college system, one of the lowest states in the US. So, when asked why the legislature has created this problem MacDonald said, “Well we haven’t had a governor who wants to raise taxes to put into state colleges for ah…. eighteen years.” And there it is, the problem-solving mentality prevalent in Montpelier. If Vermont has a problem just raising taxes and fees or create new tax sources to fix it.”

    • And this is why I’m suggesting we swim down stream. Like a smaller opponent being overtaken by a superior force. We might not want to take the blow directly, we might want to harness the momentum of a tax culture and use taxes to our advantage.

      They are killing us by hidden sources of money used to peddle and corrupt our state.

      Tax Porn, Tax PAC’s, Tax Lobbyists,

      Have fun see what the public would like to name the bill.

    • Not to worry. The more short-sighted socialists raise taxes, the less revenue they will find to tax. I’ll buy less and less. I have enough clothing to last my lifetime. I’ll grow my own food. I’ll make my own maple syrup, beer, wine and whiskey. I won’t use ‘the cloud’. People will go out of business or leave the State. Black markets will, and always have, thrived in overly regulated markets.

      Already, 40% of Vermont’s workforce is employed in the government, healthcare and education sectors – all funded primarily through taxes. When this 40% cohort, their families and friends, realize they’re the last ones standing, they’ll figure out they have made their own beds – that they are taxing themselves more and more to pay themselves more and more, because they are the only ones left with any income to tax.

      “I tried to help him with my experience, telling him that he was one of my nearest neighbors, and that I too, who came a-fishing here, and looked like a loafer, was getting my living like himself; that I lived in a tight, light, and clean house, which hardly cost more than the annual rent of such a ruin as his commonly amounts to; and how, if he chose, he might in a month or two build himself a palace of his own; that I did not use tea, nor coffee, nor butter, nor milk, nor fresh meat, and so did not have to work to get them; again, as I did not work hard, I did not have to eat hard, and it cost me but a trifle for my food; but as he began with tea, and coffee, and butter, and milk, and beef, he had to work hard to pay for them, and when he had worked hard he had to eat hard again to repair the waste of his system.” H.D. Thoreau

      The markets will prevail, despite the foolishness of others.

  6. If we could tax stoopid ideas from so called legislators we be in the black in no time
    eh ya….

  7. What will they NOT tax. That is very, very revealing.

    People wonder Neil, why are you talking about taxing


    Having a complete review of non-profits.

    Tracing money within the media

    Because when you see the plan to subvert a country, as outlined by the KGB, Yuri Bezmanov, as outlined in Sun Tzu, the Radicals hand book, etc.

    You understand how they move money. They are all about lies, power and money. It’s their own words on how the take down countries. One of the main topics is to tear down religion the fabric of any society, work your way into the universities/schools, infiltrate and tear down law and order and confuse the public about their sexuality. Which on first blush thought was stupid, how could that happen? How could that have a serious effect? Even normal sexuality can be devasting when taken out of place, honey traps, divorce financially ruin and destroy families our most basic building block. Now if you go onto a _orn site…you’ll find the latest trend is “sex” with familial, step brothers, sister, mothers, fathers…’s not natural. This is what you 12 year old sees on their cell phone.

    So when their is a tax that would be a boom to state revenues, perhaps curb activity not constructive to the public in general and clearly NOT essential for life. Why wouldn’t they say yes? Why is there such a push to legalize “sex workers” suddenly from now where? Yeah…but it’s happening in every state is my guess, they just don’t talk about it on the news… then everyone can’t see the massive coordination.

    Here are 3 things, that could raise massive amounts of money, that most conservatives could get behind. Call their bluff, come together and ask for tax increases, serious taxes on

    Porn, PAC’s and Lobbyists………..Well really when you think about it, You’re taxing the same activity aren’t you. 🙂

    • Question, if your non-profit is filled with LOBBYISTS…….are you a lobbyist form or a non profit?

      How does the Republican Party allow this and not say ANYTHINg?????

      It’s almost like they are letting the NWO take over our state without lifting a finger. These above taxes would be ground breaking, corruption breaking, world shaking and leading, and, and for a couple of years revenue for our little state.

      How long are we going to let everybody buy our state? What would be the most fun is to have even a dozen republican, currently in office, it would be a dream to have them in unison propose legislation raising taxes on these three things.

      With a super majority of democrats, controlled by hidden NWO wing, what are they going to say to the Vermont citizen when this is proposed?NO?

      Want to see people in office squirm? Here’s part of the plan? Want to expose lies and the hearts of our leaders for all the world to see, let alone Vermont? here is but one way, it gives power to the smallest, it costs no money, it would give national press, it would fill the cooler of our VT GOP because a little voice stood up for truth and America. It would be the start of winning the hearts of Vermonters.

      What will we do? same thing as last year? Aren’t we a sick of losing yet?

      • You can call it something catchy iff you like, play with it, have fun getting names from the public, here’s an idea, call it whore tax! Covers all three at once.

        Having fun, raising a boat load of money by speaking the truth exposing corruption and winning? Who says it can’t be fun? It would be the best job on the planet, too much fun.

  8. I had to go DHMC and it’s a SAD sight to see all of the Vermont cars there. We go there to do food shopping and we buy other goods there. If Vermont was not so tax happy maybe we would shop in our own state. I have even seen Vermont legislators down there shopping and they are the ones that make the laws. One day going down 89 we passed a Vermont legislator talking on his phone. They pass the laws but can’t live by them.

  9. Where to begin ? The original 3% sales tax implemented under Gov. Davis to help find education until the ED fund was stabilized was never revoke, as promised and has been regularly increased. The mention of the “sweetened beverage” tax was amusing since it was already implemented four tears ago as the “soda tax.” Tobacco, liquor, beer, candy – make sure the New Hampshire retailers send Vermont’s Legislature a big “Thank You” basket of cheer for yet another big gift !

    Vermonters are already in a “rat hole” we probably will never extract ourselves from – unless Trump is actually able to get the bankruptcy laws changed for states like Vermont can file for reorganization.

    Our current situation is like forcing shareholders in a corporation to be held liable for the entirety of the debt of the company that own shares in. Sadly, the easy way for the Vermonters (the shareholders) to escape the liability is to “pull up stakes” and move away, leaving their fellow citizens “holding the bag !”

    Prove Me Wrong !

    • You are absolutely correct, that’s why this shareholder sold (moved out of Dodge) years ago. Now the tax burden in VT will skyrocket even more and housing will tumble, starting with commercial real estate. You can’t promote remote working since the internet infrastructure in Vermont is decades behind most other states.

      Sorry wasn’t willing to go down with the ship. The writing has been on the wall

  10. I don’t consider Till’s ideas just cruel, but blatantly insensitive. This should be taken as a dry run of how the liberals will react to the pending economic damage from their carbon reduction initiatives.

  11. All I see is a boat load of regressive taxes being put forth by the parties that do nothing but champion progressive tax policy. What a bunch of two faces hypocrites.

    Oh and since when has a Dem/Prog ever had a “Temporary” tax.

    Have these folks seen what the model progressive state of Kalifornia is putting forth? Huge spending cuts, perhaps the VT liberals should shit back down in their chair and think this over… Nah not going to happen. Be prepared to take it on the keester.

    • There will be a large number of people who will not be able to pay their property taxes. If a majority of those who can pay refuse to, that would send a message.

      Boycott property taxes until the state cuts 25% across the board.

      • I agree but it will never happen. When I live in VT I paid $5300 on a 275k house. Mind you I didn’t not qualify for the property tax subsidy. Now that I have moved less then $1800 on a 500k house. Down here 500k buys you SUBSTANTIALLY more house then in the North East. Not counting what my taxes would be if my current house was in VT (Probably 12k/year) I’m pocketing $35,000 in 10 years. Put that in a 529 for my kids and that’s a nice chunk of change for my kids education.

  12. Liberal Democrats motto ” Never Let a Crisis go to waste “, Vermont is in a
    complete medical & financial crisis, do to the Wuhan Pandemic and our astute
    legislators find the opening to pass all their foolish policies and taxes !!

    Wake up people, they don’t care about you or the state, just an agenda now
    how pathetic is that ……………. Let’s clean house.

  13. We could add some type of a tax to every abortion he performs or donate the md fee for each one to the state tax fund.

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