Four reasons to oppose expanding sales tax

To the editor:

The Vermont Tax Structure Commission’s Final Report to the legislature recommended the expansion of “the sales tax base to all consumer-level purchases of goods and services except healthcare and casual consumer-to-consumer transactions” (Report, page 7). Further, the Commission recommend that the legislature “use the gain from broadening the base to protect low-income Vermonters and reduce the sales tax rate to 3.6%” (Page 7). Put simply, Vermont can’t afford this.

There are four reasons why this is a bad recommendation. First, if you believe this broader-based tax rate would be lowered to the Commission’s “revenue-neutral scenario” rate of 3.6% that holds “low-income Vermonters harmless,” I have a bridge to sell you. Heck, since it’s Vermont, I’ll make it a covered bridge.

Buried in that 3.6% rate is the second reason why this is a bad recommendation. Keeping the expansion “revenue neutral” somehow costs $24 million (Page 78). So non low-income Vermonters get the privilege of forking over an additional $24 million so that the state can reap not one single extra dollar. And the administrative cost to protect low-income Vermonters? A mere $14 million (Page 78).

Reason three concerns the cost to businesses, particularly small businesses. Landscapers, painters, plumbers, electricians, roofers, bankers, appliance repairmen—all would be charged with accounting for and remitting to the state that 3.6% tax on everything they bill. The Commission claims there is software that can easily take care of the accounting, but that is software that has to be purchased and learned, and then there is the time for all the data entry. That is time each individual is not engaged in work that puts food on their table.

The fourth reason is the cost to non low-income Vermonters. Every service they use, and most goods they purchase, will cost more. Groceries? Included. You thought college was already expensive? The state wants to tax tuition. Is it tax time? If you use an accountant to prepare your taxes, the state will charge you to have that return prepared. Did a loved one die? The state will have its hand out when you pay for the funeral services. And aren’t we told that affordable childcare is currently a problem? Well, the state wants to make it more expensive and tax that, too.

Here’s an alternative recommendation to the legislature. Instead of protecting low-income Vermonters by raising everyone’s taxes and establishing a new program to rebate funds back to Vermont’s most vulnerable, how about spending less and lowering everyone’s taxes? That may not be a revenue-neutral proposal, but it won’t cost taxpayers a dime to implement.

Brian Vogel
Manchester Center

Categories: Opinion

5 replies »

  1. Taxing ncessities? No wonder people hate what they think is “socialism”, which it isn’t. Marxism is slowly taking over this state.
    I speak as a socialist, not a “reactionary”. And I’m aware of many pieces of a huge, frightening puzzle.

  2. Over the past 40 plus years, Vermont has shifted from a conservative, rural, agricultural state to a liberal social experiment. But we all know this. What we seem not to comprehend is the fact that our individual legislators, who we may know and like- behave very differently once under the golden dome. The words and actions used on the campaign trail are sometimes very different than what these legislators really believe- and what their actions are when legislating. The broadening of the sales tax is inevitable as the pressure mounts for more government services and to pay for the already bloated state budget. Past legislatures have left each successive legislature with deepening debt- think pension funding and out of control social programs- and the gorilla in the room- healthcare. The burden that these state programs, with legions of employees to administer add to our Vermont economy dictate an ever-increasing stream of “revenue” to sate the thirst of government.
    As Democrats and progressives continue to dominate state legislatures, this thirst runs unabated. On Election Day, you may think well of your representatives and the job they are doing representing you in Montpelier- and vote accordingly- but there’s clear history that economy-crippling taxes and regulation are the result of your actions. Vermont is well past the point of any chance of fiscal responsibility, with the consequence being that Vermont is now no more livable economically than any other Northeast state, save New Hampshire.
    Elections do have consequences.

  3. I’m GLAD that I live on the NH border as I spend MOST of my DISPOSABLE income there. A Damn soda here in VT is 1.89 each it’s NH its .99 If you tax groceries, I will grow my own.

  4. I suppose we should just face it. We’ve been indicted with living our lives improperly so we’ve invited these legislative invaders in to fix us…to pursue our happiness for us. Given that, it’s understandable that they’ll need to confiscate our resources to pay for it. What have we brought down on ourselves? What’s our option? Are there legislators who would start repealing this avalanche of intrusion? Do we start tax refusing?

  5. In the words of George Harrison “Let me tell you how it will be, here’s one for you nineteen for me. Don’t ask me what I want it for if you don’t want to pay some more cause I’m the Taxman.

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