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Vermont tax rates - 2010

The tax rates shown are generally in effect in 2010. There are numerous definitions, classifications, exemptions, and credits, plus license and user fees. Some tax rates may change over time. For current information and changes, taxpayers should consult the Department of Taxes web site at http://www.state.vt.us/tax/index.shtml.

Personal Income Tax:
Couple Filing Jointly
Taxable Income Tax Rate
2009
Tax Rate
2010
$0 -- $54,400 3.55% 3.55%
$54,400 -- $131,450 7.00% 6.80%
$131,450 -- $200,300 8.25% 7.80%
$200,300 -- $357,700 8.90% 8.80%
Over $357,700 9.40% 8.95%

Individual
Taxable Income Tax Rate
2009
Tax Rate
2010
$0 -- $32,550 3.55% 3.55%
$32,550 -- $78,850 7.00% 6.80%
$78,850 -- $164,550 8.25% 7.80%
$164,550 -- $357,700 8.90% 8.80%
Over $357,700 9.40% 8.95%

Capital Gains Tax: all net capital gains over $2500 are included in ordinary income (exemptions for farm and forest land and seniors over 70).

Corporate Income Tax: 6-8.9% depending on income allocated to Vermont.

Estate Tax: state tax rates range from 7.2 to 15% on estate's excess value over $2.0 million.

Sales Tax: 6% (food and clothing generally exempt) (plus 1% local option in certain towns)

Use Tax: 6% (on taxable goods brought into the state)

Telecommunications: 6% (plus 1% local option in certain towns)

Meals and Rooms: 9% meals, 9% rooms, 10% liquor served

Gasoline: ~25 cents/gallon (20 cents plus 2% of average retail price exclusive of taxes)

Diesel Fuel: 26 cents/gallon

Motor Vehicle Purchase and Use: 6%

Vehicle Rentals: 7%

Fuel Gross Receipts Tax: ½% (heating oil, propane, kerosene, natural gas)

State Education Property Taxes:
Nonresidential: 1.35% on equalized fair market value (uniform statewide).

Residential: 0.86% on equalized fair market value, increased by percentage that local per pupil spending exceeds a statutory $8544 (varies by school district).

Municipal Property Taxes: vary by city and town (municipal grand lists are not subject to equalization)

Tobacco: $2.24 per cigarette pack (rates vary for other tobacco products)

Liquor: 55 cents/gallon plus 6% retail sales tax

Beer: 26.5 cents/gallon plus 6% retail sales tax

Insurance premiums: 2% (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont is exempt)

Property Transfer: 1.25% of price (with certain exemptions)

Land Gains: up to 90% of net gain, depending on percentage gain and holding period

There are also many specialized taxes, such as captive insurance, nuclear electricity generation, telephone property, bank franchise, hazardous waste, railroad property, digital business entity, and solid waste franchise.

Taxes that have been proposed but not enacted include a general gross receipts, consumption, or value added tax (replacing the sales and use tax); extending the sales and use tax to services; a "gas guzzler" tax on low mpg vehicles; and a carbon combustion tax.

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How to Find the Vermont Constitution and Statutes

The Vermont Constitution and Statutes can be accessed online at http://www.leg.state.vt.us/statutesmain.cfm
The Vermont Statutes Annotated (the "Green Books") can be accessed in most public libraries and all town and county clerks' offices. The annotations tell what acts amended each section over the years since 1947.
The Acts and Resolves adopted during each legislative session can be accessed on line at http://www.leg.state.vt.us/docs/acts.cfm?Session=2010. They are also published by the Department of Libraries and sold for approximately $12. Once adopted, most of the Acts are incorporated into the Statutes. Other parts of the Acts ("session laws") are in effect only for the biennial session, and are not part of the permanent statutes of the state.

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How to Find Vermont Supreme Court Opinions

Opinions of the Vermont Supreme Court since 1988 are available on line at http://libraries.vermont.gov/law/supct.
The opinions are presented by volume number of the printed court reports, that do not include the year in which the opinion was handed down. For example, Vol. 180 covers cases mostly decided in 2006.
Further, although the cases can be searched, searching by the subject matter of the case can be very unproductive. It is necessary to know at least one word in the title of the case. For example, the important 1999 case of Baker v State, in which the Court directed the legislature to offer gay and lesbian couples all or most of the benefits of marriage, does not come up in searches for 'civil unions', 'marriage', 'gay', or 'lesbian'. It does of course appear if you search for 'Baker'.
The web site makes it a point of saying that the electronic texts are 'unofficial', but in almost every case there is no difference between the 'unofficial' versions and the 'official' (printed) versions.

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Legislative Fiscal Analyses

The legislature's Joint Fiscal Office (JFO) publishes analyses of many current legislative issues online. Of special value are the JFO budgetary projections and reports on various spending programs. Current JFO documents can be accessed here http://www.leg.state.vt.us/jfo/default.aspx

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The Vermont Open Records Law

The Vermont Open Records Law can be found at Chapter 5 of Volume 1 of the Vermont Statutes (1 VSA 315) by clicking here.
The law defines citizen rights to access public information and spells out the procedures for obtaining records.
The Secretary of State has published a useful guide to using the law, entitled A Matter of Public Record (most recent edition: June 2002). It can be found here.
A similar guide to the law prepared by the Burlington law firm of Gravel & Shea can be found here

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State Collective Bargaining Agreements

The state is a party to four collective bargaining agreements: for non-supervisory personnel, supervisory personnel, state police, and corrections employees. The current agreements run to June 30, 2010.
State employees are represented by the Vermont State Employees Association.
The agreements may be reviewed at www.vermontpersonnel.org/employee/labor_cba.php.

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The Influence of Money in State Politics

The National Institute on Money in State Politics maintains an extensive web site www.followthemoney.org showing political contributions by name and linking contributors, industries, lobbyists, and state politicians.
The site reveals lobbyists registered in every state and the names of their clients.
The Center for Responsive Politics web site www.opensecrets.org tracks money in U.S. politics at the national level, and its effect on elections and public policy.

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Rainy Day Fund Balances

Each major state fund has a Budget Stabilization Reserve, commonly referred to as a "rainy day fund".
The General Fund and Transportation Fund reserves are "full" when they contain 5 percent of their respective appropriations for the prior fiscal year. The Education Fund reserve must be maintained between 3.5 percent and 5 percent of the prior year's Education Fund appropriations (less certain adjustments).
If a fund shows a deficit at the end of the fiscal year, the Commissioner of Finance and Management draws down its reserve to cover the deficit amount.
The table shows the rainy day fund balances at the close of FY2009.

Budget Stabilization Reserves
Fund Balance Pct
General $60.0 million 5.0
Transportation $11.3 million 5.0
Education $29.4 million 4.7

The maintenance of the statutorily required balances in the three reserves is an important consideration in maintaining Vermont's AAA bond rating.
The reserve levels are published each year in the Governor's Budget Recommend document. For FY2010, the link is http://finance.vermont.gov/sites/finance/files/pdf/state%20budget/ExecutiveBudgetRecommendSumFY2010.pdf

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How to Contact Your Legislator

You can contact your legislators by telephone, mail, or electronic mail. Their postal addresses, telephone numbers, and e-mail addresses are listed in the Legislative Directory. http://www.leg.state.vt.us/legdir/legdir2.htm A few legislators do not have emails; to contact them via email, send to sgtatarms@leg.state.vt.us.
When the legislature is in session, you can call toll free and leave a message for your legislator at 1 800 322 5616, the Sergeant at Arms message line. Your message, including your call back request and number, will be carried to the legislator.

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How Can I Find Out If a Public Figure (or anyone else) has a Criminal Record?

The Vermont Criminal Information Center now posts online all Vermont criminal convictions since the late 1940s. This is the system accessed by law enforcement officers.
A person's record shows the charge, the conviction, the sentence, and the date and location of the judicial action. It does not show the original charge (that may have been plea bargained down), or give information about the victim or circumstances of the crime. For that information it is still necessary to consult the original court records, which usually are not online.
The file also does not show criminal actions against the individual in other than Vermont jurisdictions.
To access the file you must know the individual's correct name and date of birth, and pay a $20 fee by credit card.
Cautionary note: there are many people who were convicted of crimes decades ago, have paid their debt, and have since gone straight. Their criminal record remains, of course, but inquirers should tread lightly where bringing up ancient transgressions might do a long-reformed citizen an injustice.
To access the service, click here.

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State By State Comparisons

The Taxpayers Network, based in Green Bay WI, publishes an annual online booklet containing comparisons of the fifty states in demography, taxes, revenues, incomes. economics, education, transportation, energy and much more. Most of the data is compiled from U.S. government sources. "Fifty State Comparisons" can be accessed (pdf format) at http://www.taxpayersnetwork.org/DesktopDefault.aspx
The Tax Foundation, based in Washington DC, publishes a wide array of reports on taxes and business climate in the states. Its publications can be accessed at www.taxfoundation.org

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State Tax Credits for Economic Development.

Beginning in 1997 the Vermont Economic Progress Council (VEPC) awarded a variety of tax credits to businesses planning to locate or expand in Vermont. The program, extensively revised, is now administered by the Agency of Commerce and Community Development. And the Department of Taxes.

The program offers credits for payroll, downtown and village center, research and development, export, workforce development, capital investment, affordable housing, and angel venture capital. In 2007 the method of issuing the incentives switched from a claimed tax credit to 'performance-based employment growth incentives to be paid out of the business's withholding account upon approval by the department of taxes.' The authorizing statute is 32 VSA 5930 et.seq., found at www.leg.state.vt.us/statutes/statutes2.htm

For a listing of all tax credits awarded to businesses from October 1998 through 2007, go to the VEPC annual report for 2008 at http://www.thinkvermont.com/Portals/0/Annual_Report_2008.pdf and scroll down to Appendix I.

For Vermont Employment Growth Initiative (VEGI) awards made since the reorganization of the program in January 2007, go to http://www.thinkvermont.com/Portals/0/VEGI_Auth_Summary_Mar09.pdf

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Legislative Voting Records

Project Vote Smart is a national organization that provides nonpartisan information about candidates and elected officials to the American people, mainly through listing scorecards from various organizations in each state. http://www.votesmart.org

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Who's Lobbying in Montpelier

The Vermont Secretary of State regulates and registers lobbyists. The laws, definitions and rules governing lobbying, and an excel file of all currently registered lobbyists and the interests they represent can be accessed here
The Secretary of State also publishes a biennial handbook of all registered lobbyists and the various interests they represent, soon after the beginning of each biennial legislative session (odd numbered years). You can obtain this publication by mail by calling her office at 802 828 2363. Additional lobbyists may be added after publication of the booklet; these will be included in the online excel file which is updated from time to time during the year.

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  • Vermont's Retirement Pension Fund Obligations

    Vermont state government manages two large defined benefit retirement funds, the Vermont State Employee Retirement Fund (covering 4,797) and the Vermont State Teachers Retirement Fund (covering 5,910). The state also has responsibility for Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB) provided to state employees and teachers after they retire.

    As of June 30, 2009 the state employees' plan had an unfunded accrued liability of $326.5 million, and the teachers' plan of $727.8 million.

    The state employee health benefits plan had an unfunded liability of $448.5 million, and the teachers' health benefits plan of $431.8 million

    The 2009 General Assembly created the Commission on the Design and Funding of Retirement and Retiree Health benefit Plans for State Employees and Teachers. Its Report appeared in December 2009. It is a thorough analysis of the obligations the state has assumed for retirement and OPEB, and presents options and recommendations for meeting those very large obligations.

    The Report (pdf, 105pp) is available here; the Executive Summary and Recommendations are found on pp. 6-13.

    Current information on the status of the pension funds can be found at the Treasurer's web page here

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