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vt.Buzz ~ a political blog

Political notes from Free Press staff writers Terri Hallenbeck, Sam Hemingway and Nancy Remsen



A poll on taxes

What do you make of this? A group of advocacy organizations had some questions about raising taxes included in a recent poll and found that Vermonters would support some targeted tax increases to maintain the affordability of the state's health care programs.

The organizations that sponsored the poll were Vermont NEA, AARP Vermont, B-State Primary Carer Association, Vermont Citizens Campaign for Health Care Security Education Fund and America's Agenda: Health Care for All.

According to their press release, the poll was conducted by Macro on Jan. 17-20. The results are based on responses from 400 Vermonters.

The first question was "In order to keep Catamount Health, Dr. Dynasaur and other state health care programs affordable for low-income Vermonters, would you support a temporary state income tax surcharge for those earning more than $500,000 per year?

The results: 56 percent said they would strongly support such a remedy, 21 could somewhat support, 9 percent would somewhat oppose and 8 percent would strongly oppose. Democrats were the strongest supporters and Republicans the weakest supporters -- but more Republicans supported the tax increase than opposed it.

The same question was asked with a different tax option -- adding $1 to the existing tax on cigarettes. There was even stronger support for this option. 70 percent strongly supported, 12 percent somewhat supported, 7 percent somewhat opposed and 9 percent strongly opposed.

Under this option, even a majority of self-identified Republicans strongly agreed (69 percent) and 81 percent of Democrats were strong supporters.

One has to wonder if any of the respondents were smokers or earned more than $500,000. It would be easy support imposing a tax on someone else, wouldn't it?

Still, it's an interest bit of information that will no doubt play a role as lawmakers and the Douglas administration wrestle over the budget in the coming weeks.

-- Nancy Remsen

Dick Snelling would have been in favor of it.
Yeah but Dickless Douglas will never be.
I wonder how many people made over $500,000 in 2007 or 2008? There will certainly be fewer of those people in 2009 and 2010.

It is not surprising that a majority of Vermonters would support a tax increase, as long as it does not affect themselves. Especially since most Vermonters get state assistance (if you include the renter rebates and homeowner rebates and prebates). We are all happy to take those government dollars!
A prebate is 'government assistance'?

On what planet??
Snelling did a heck of a lot more than just temporarily increase some taxes - there were major cuts as well, including hundreds of state employees losing their jobs . . .

Yep. Cuts are happening. But that's only going to get us so far.

Snelling knew that some targeted & temporary tax increases needed to happen.

It worked then. It'll work again.
Snelling respected the Democrats in the legislature and he reached out to work with them.

Douglas does not work with the leadership in the legislature.

Jim Douglas is no Dick Snelling.
VTNEA never saw a tax it didn't like. Remind me again how much Dorta and Cook make in salaries and benefits?
Hear, hear!!!!!
Douglas and Lunderville make almost $300,000 just in salary. Add in benefits and it will make you ill thinking about it.
Plus 14,000 in lunch money
This comment has been removed by the author.
As Nancy properly pointed out, by narrowing the target population for a tax, it's fairly easy to gain majority support for said tax from those who aren't targeted.

Since most people don't make a half-million bucks a year or smoke, those are easy taxes to get passed. Anybody know how much they raise? And did the poll specify how much the tax on "the rich" would be raised?
According to VT Tax Dept Website, in 2007 there were 1,571 tax returns (of 362,000 total)with incomes over $500,000. This group paid $166 million or 28% of 2007's $588 million in income taxex.

Those are the facts.

Vermont's income tax rate for these wealthy individuals is already one of the highest in the nation. So what happens if the rate is increased even more -- and on such a small number of taxpayers who already pay nearly 1/3rd of the total income tax bill for the state?

Will they pay it and will the State collect additional revenue?

Or, how difficult is it for these taxpayers (clearly with means) to simply move across the CT river to NH (or Florida where it is nice and warm) and pay NO income taxes whatsoever to Vermont.

If the rate is increased, will Vermont gain -- or lose -- and who might really have to pick up the shortfall?

What's that story about the Golden Goose?
"A prebate is 'government assistance'? On what planet??"

How is it not? Your tax is calculated, and then you receive money back from the state based on falling below a certain income threshold. Sorry homes, that's welfare; "government assistance" is being polite about it.
So a tax return is gov't assistance? Regardless of the mechanism used to move the money back to the tax payer, its still a tax refund not welfare. By your definition no one shoud get refunds we should ALL pay more. Okay.
The prebate/rebate is a shell game.
A tax refund is an adjustment when you overpay based on the same tax rates/rules that everyone plays by. "Income sensitivity" is money sent to you by the state because your income falls below a certain threshold. Big difference. Income sensitivity is welfare. I know it sucks to think of it that way because 90% of VT homeowners are on it, but that's what it is.
Anonymous said: "According to VT Tax Dept Website, in 2007 there were 1,571 tax returns (of 362,000 total)with incomes over $500,000. This group paid $166 million or 28% of 2007's $588 million in income taxes."

So how much would we need to tap these people for to make any meaningful difference in Vermont's revenue shortfall? And what's the tipping point at which some of them decide to up and leave rather than pay the additional taxes?

A 10 percent increase nets us another $16.6 million. 20 percent gets $33 million. 50 percent is $80 million, just over half the $150 million we're looking for. Or we could double their tax burden and not even bother with cigarettes, gas, etc.

Would you pay twice as much income tax as you do now happily? Or if you could avoid it?
"The income sensitivity component, as is the case with the progressive income tax, is based on taxable income."

As is all welfare.

In this case, the "right" to apply for the state to send you money is dependent on falling below a particular income threshold. If everyone paid based on income, or if everyone paid based on property value, it would be a different story. As it is, your tax is based on property value, and then most people are given money by the state because their income is below a certain level. That is welfare by any definition of the word.

"there are two separate components involved here"

That's right, the tax component and the welfare component. You've made my point for me.

Any government program where you receive money because you fall below a particular income threshold is government assistance, ie. welfare.
"the State of Vermont beg to differ"

Really? Show me where the State of Vermont classifies, say, food stamps as welfare and income sensitivity otherwise. The very name "income sensitivity" directly maps to the definition of welfare, and I believe it was the State of Vermont that gave the program that name.

For someone who impugns pretty much everyone else's intelligence, you're having an awfully hard time with this simple concept.
"Reality and the VSA says different."

Where does the VSA say that income sensitivity isn't welfare?
"Where does the VSA say that income sensitivity isn't welfare?"

Thanks for clarifying that, Coop. I guess cut and paste "insults" are a lot easier than trying to make, let alone back up, a cogent point.

Enjoy your welfare.
"Reality and the VSA says different."

"Where does the VSA say that income sensitivity isn't welfare?"

"I'm under no obligation to disprove what you've proved yourself unable to prove."

That would have worked just before you said that the VSA said income sensitivity isn't welfare. Unfortunately, that's what you said, so prove it. And try doing it in the right thread this time.
Dick Snelling would have been in favor of it.

If you were around in 1991, or cared to look it up, you would know that what Snelling and Democratic Speaker Ralph Wright agreed to was a temporary tax increase AND significant government program cuts.

Where's the program cuts proposal from the Legislature now?

The silence is deafening.

You can't make the comparison to 1991 based exclusively on Governor Snelling's willingness to do a tax increase.
Shumlin for Governor
Markowitz all the way!!
Ugh, the skeletons in those two closets could fill a city graveyard . . .
But wouldn't that make it more exciting!!!
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