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Tax Commission will issue consensus report

The president is calling for unity, as the transfer of presidential power in Washington has been anything but peaceful over the past few months. Here in Vermont the soon to be released Tax Structure Commission’s report provides a real-world example of what united policy development looks like.

The Vermont Tax Structure Commission, established by the Legislature in 2018, is putting the finishing touches on their draft report recommending changes to the state’s tax system. The Commission has three members, two appointed by the Democratic legislature and one by the Republican governor, each with different tax backgrounds. They have been working together over the last two years analyzing the state’s tax system and developing long-term recommendations to make it “more fair, more sustainable, and simpler.”

The result is a set of eight recommendations developed through a collaborative, transparent process. The commissioners committed to operating by consensus from the beginning of their work, with the final report and recommendations written and approved by all three of them. In contrast, the Blue Ribbon Tax Structure Commission’s report in 2011 had a substantial section devoted to the minority view.

The Tax Structure Commission heard testimony from over 60 experts and the public, and held more than three dozen public meetings over the course of two years—and in the midst of the pandemic. The testimony and proposals they considered are incorporated into their final report. They not only included proposals they endorsed, but also those they rejected along with the rationale for their decisions. This creates a body of work useful to legislators to reference as they consider the Commission’s recommendations and alternative proposals and decide on which policies they will enact.

The Commission’s recommendations include changes to the education tax system; the sales tax base; income taxes; public benefit programs; telecommunications taxes; climate policy; and collaboration with other states. The final report will be presented to the Legislature in early February.

Posted by Julie Lowell on January 28, 2021 at 12:06 pm

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