Senate committee homes in on tax changesBy DAVE GRAM
The Associated Press | April 24,2013MONTPELIER — The Vermont Senate Finance Committee is expected to finalize a plan by the end of the week that raises $10 million in new revenue toward a $1.3 billion general fund budget, with capping the state income tax deduction for home mortgage interest likely to be in the package.
The Senate panel’s plan is likely to draw less complaint from Gov. Peter Shumlin than the $27 million in new or higher taxes approved by the House last month. Differences between the two plans likely will be worked out in the conference committee made up of three members from each chamber.
The $10 million figure came from Sen. Tim Ashe, chairman of the Finance Committee, who led his panel through an afternoon of deliberations Tuesday toward the expected completion of work on the tax bill Friday.
The committee was expected to approve a cap on the ability of homeowners to deduct home mortgage interest from their state income taxes; as currently written, the bill would cap the deduction at $10,000.
Chris MacDonald, lobbyist for the Vermont Realtors real estate industry group, complained that lawmakers seemed to think the cap would affect only wealthier homeowners. He said an estimated 51 percent of tax filers affected have household incomes below $100,000.
The bill also calls for increasing Vermont’s cigarette tax by $1.50 a pack, from its current $2.62. The House version of the tax bill called for a 50-cent increase.
Ashe said in an interview he wanted to raise the cigarette tax mainly as a public health measure — to discourage people from smoking. He said he might seek to pull the levy out of his committee’s bill and have it reviewed as separate legislation by the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.
Other committee members said they favored a somewhat lower figure than $1.50.
“I don’t think we should just be whacking the heck out of people who are addicted to something they just can’t get off of,” said Sen. Kevin Mullin, R-Rutland.
The bill expands the sales tax to covered bottled water; it does not levy the sales tax on soda and candy, as the House version would.
The bill also imposes a new 3 percent tax and new regulations on so-called “break-open tickets,” a betting ticket sold in service clubs and bars. Bettors rip open the tickets to see if they have a winner in which symbols on the outside match those on the inside.
Shumlin proposed a 10 percent tax; the House tax bill would not tax the tickets.
Committee members rejected a plan to save the state’s coffers $1.4 million by scrapping a tax credit designed to encourage families to save for college. Ashe complained that the benefit went mainly to upper-income Vermonters.
The bill also calls for new attention to future tax policy: It calls for a study of tax-exempt properties belonging to churches and charitable organizations.
The bill also delves into tax policy with an eye toward future changes.MORE IN Vermont NewsA confidential memo obtained by Vermont Public Radio shows that the Agency of Education is still... Full Story
- Most Popular
- Most Emailed
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day 1739, 'Richard Palmer' identified in prison at York Castle as the notorious outlaw DICK TURPIN; IN 1836, Battle of the Alamo begins near San Antonio de Bexar, Texas; 1896, the Tootsie Roll invented by LEO HIRSCHFELD.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1472, Orkney, Shetland islands put up as collateral by Norway to Scotland in lieu of dowry for MARGARET OF DENMARK on her marriage with JAMES III, king of Scotland; 1962, JOHN GLENN first American to orbit Earth.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: City mayoral candidates debate campaign issues; Hartford, Conn., woman still missing; Neal Goswami reports attempts to legislate suicide; local woman loses 100 pounds through TOPS program.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1878, JOHN TUNSTALL murdered near Lincoln, New Mexico, by the outlaw JESSE EVANS; in 1930, ELM FARM OLLIE first cow to fly in aircraft, first to be milked airborne; 1955, nuke test WASP; '79, snow in Sahara.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: Rutland Herald News Editor Alan J. Keays and staff writer Gordon Dritschilo discuss stories planned for the February 18, 2015, edition of the newspaper: Winter budgets maxed, legal marijuana, Springfield bank job, USPS slowdown
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1249 AD, ANDRE of LONGJUMEAU is dispatched by LOUIS IX of France to meet the KHAGAN, ruler of the Mongol Empire; in 1804, during 1st Barbary War, STEPHEN DECATUR scuttles the pirate-held USS Philadelphia in Tripoli.