Substantial New Taxes Pose Greater Risk to Affordability, Demographic Concerns

House and Senate tax committees considered several new or expanded revenue sources to supplement a projected 20% increase in the average property tax bill for the next fiscal year. Addressing the persistent shortfall in the education fund, which struggles to meet the needs of a school system serving fewer students but requiring more resources, is not a new challenge. Introducing new revenue sources without accompanying solutions merely serves as a temporary fix. The Vermont Chamber agrees with the committee members willing to stand up and say that more money is not the solution and that hard conversations about cost containment measures need to happen this session. Specifically, those identified by the Joint Fiscal Office that would allow the education fund to support students without increasing the tax burden on Vermonters, which would only further drive the workforce from the state.

Options under discussion include an excise tax on sugary beverages, increased taxation on candy (including maple), a 6% sales tax on remotely accessed software, and potentially increasing Vermont’s sales tax. Last week, several business organizations sent a joint memo to the chairs of key committees to raise these concerns and request that they implement the changes provided by the Joint Fiscal Office to curtail education spending. Cost containment measures can’t take a back seat, while legislative proposals for increasing the burden on Vermonters are discussed.