Editorial: Vermont’s property taxes are high, but far from the highest

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Posted on September 13, 2010 in News

Addison Independent
By Angelo Lynn,
Posted on September 13, 2010

Doug Hoffer’s penchant for accuracy when talking about state policy is one reason he would be an outstanding state auditor. For too long misleading comments and positions by our state leaders have gone unchallenged and have been allowed to take root in the state’s psyche. The misperception around the state’s tax rankings is one area in which the Douglas administration — and now lieutenant governor candidate Brian Dubie — has distorted the facts and reality.

Last week, Hoffer corrected Dubie’s claim that Vermont had the highest rates in the country with a thorough explanation citing the various tax rates within the state compared to our neighboring states. While it’s true that Vermont has one of the highest marginal tax rates for residents, that rate only applies to the top 1 percent of taxpayers, and even then the rate doesn’t apply until the first dollar over $372,951 earned annually. (Maine and Massachusetts, for example, both have higher taxes for household incomes of under $109,320, and Maine’s taxes are still higher than Vermont’s for those earning in the million-dollar range.) The tax rates for those in the low to middle-income ranges (up to $125,000 and more for a family) are actually lower than other states in the Northeast. And since 90 percent or so of Vermonters fall within that income range, it is grossly misleading to have Vermonters think they are paying the highest taxes among the neighboring states. It is simply not true.

Dubie knows this, but claiming that Vermont’s taxes are the highest only for those making more than half-a-million or more, just doesn’t have the same populist appeal, does it?

This week Hoffer again corrects a blatant distortion Dubie makes when he claims “Vermonters have the highest property taxes in the country.”

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