Ensure that families get the state Child Tax Credit

Posted by Julie Lowell on February 20, 2023 at 4:14 pm | Comments Off on Ensure that families get the state Child Tax Credit

Amid rising prices and expiring pandemic assistance for housing, food, and other basics, there’s some good news for Vermonters and their kids. Families most in need—those with low or no earnings—with children under 6 can now receive $1,000 from the refundable Vermont Child Tax Credit when they file their 2022 tax returns.

But here’s the challenge: Many families with low earnings don’t have to file taxes—so they risk missing out on these credits. In 2019 the IRS estimated that 17 percent of Vermont filers did not claim the Earned Income Tax Credit, a similar refundable tax credit targeting families with low income, even though they were eligible.

Statement on Gov. Phil Scott’s Jan. 20, 2023 Budget Address

Posted by Staff on January 20, 2023 at 3:52 pm | Comments Off on Statement on Gov. Phil Scott’s Jan. 20, 2023 Budget Address

The most memorable part of Gov. Phil Scott’s fiscal 2024 budget address had nothing to do with the budget. He ended his speech extending a hand to immigrants: “With compassion and courage, we can do our part to welcome those bold or desperate enough to leave their lives, and all they’ve ever known, behind to travel thousands of miles just to live the American dream.” It was an important message in these polarized times.

For everyone to access that American dream, we need well-funded public services. We were encouraged by the governor’s call for expanded child care services, but we need to see the details. A RAND Corporation report released last week estimated child care expansion could cost between $179 million and $279 million. The governor said additional services could be provided “without asking families with less to pay for families with more.” Does that mean he’s ready to ask families with more to pay for families with less?

Covid showed us the value of public investment

Posted by Jack Hoffman on January 12, 2023 at 11:25 am | Comments Off on Covid showed us the value of public investment

There were two threads running through Gov. Phil Scott’s fourth Inaugural Address last week. One was a clear, even refreshing, acknowledgement of the role that government and money played in the last few years to protect Vermonters and improve their lives. The other was the governor’s vision of a future Vermont where all communities, big and small, have the tools they need to be “more dynamic and vibrant.”

The challenge of this new biennium will be to keep these two threads connected. Continued public investment—government and money—will be required to provide the kind of infrastructure and services the governor wants Vermonters to have.

Governor Scott painted an inspiring picture of what Vermont could achieve. It’s hard to argue with his to-do list.

New Medicaid agreement opens health care opportunities

Posted by Julie Lowell on October 12, 2022 at 1:50 pm | Comments Off on New Medicaid agreement opens health care opportunities

Under Vermont’s newest Medicaid agreement with the federal government, Vermont will get more money and be allowed more flexibility in the services it provides and the people it provides them to. It also gives the state support to address some difficult public health issues that have worsened during the pandemic.

Medicaid, an entitlement program that gives states federal matching funds for health care services for low-income residents, affects about a third of Vermonters, including more than 65,000 children. Each year it accounts for nearly 30 percent of health care dollars spent on Vermonters. Before the pandemic Medicaid spending was about $1.8 billion in federal and state dollars combined. For every dollar from the state, the feds put in about $1.17. The federal share increased during the pandemic and is expected to return to the previous level when the pandemic recovery measure sunsets.

Student loan relief also comes with tax relief

Posted by Jack Hoffman on September 27, 2022 at 3:23 pm | Comments Off on Student loan relief also comes with tax relief

Vermonters who qualify for a reduction in their student loan debt will get another break from the state: The loan forgiveness won’t be taxed.

Debt forgiveness is typically counted as income and taxed by both federal and state governments. People who negotiate debt reduction with credit card companies are sometimes surprised to learn they owe income taxes on the amount written off.

Before President Joe Biden announced his student loan forgiveness plan, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), passed in 2021, anticipated the tax consequences of such a proposal. Under ARPA, federal student loan debt forgiven through 2025 is not be counted as federal taxable income.

Joe Wiah, Refugee Resettlement Director, to Receive the 2022 Con Hogan Award

Posted by Staff on September 22, 2022 at 11:42 am | Comments Off on Joe Wiah, Refugee Resettlement Director, to Receive the 2022 Con Hogan Award

The Vermont Community Foundation and the organizing committee for the Con Hogan Award for Creative, Entrepreneurial Community Leadership are pleased to announce that Joe Wiah will be honored with this year’s award. Wiah is Director of the Ethiopian Community Development Council’s (ECDC) Multicultural Community Center in Brattleboro.

The annual award, established by a group of Con Hogan’s colleagues in 2015, celebrates his life’s work by recognizing a community leader who shares his vision of a better Vermont and seizes the responsibility for making that vision real. The awardee shows deep community involvement, generosity, enthusiasm, a collaborative approach, and a focus on data and measurable outcomes in their work.

State revenue: What do we want for the new “normal”?

Posted by Jack Hoffman on August 18, 2022 at 1:34 pm | Comments Off on State revenue: What do we want for the new “normal”?

A strong economy, spurred by federal stimulus money and funds to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, is producing a surge in Vermont state tax receipts. Personal income taxes are up, meals and rooms taxes are up, and so are corporate taxes.

Now is the time to start planning for when revenues come back down to earth.

A giant leap backward

Posted by Staff on June 29, 2022 at 9:38 am | Comments Off on A giant leap backward

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last Friday to overturn Roe v. Wade has devastating effects on anyone who can get pregnant. Plain and simple, this ruling is a clear effort to assert control over women’s bodies and therefore our agency, our autonomy, and our freedom.

Vermont has codified the right to reproductive health care in statute and will vote on a constitutional amendment to reinforce that in November. The governor issued a statement on Friday in support of that right and the amendment. But none of that means that Vermonters are shielded from the consequences of this decision.

Many have made the case that this ruling is wrong, that it sets us back 50 years and that it subjugates those who can get pregnant to the whims of the state they live in. Others have pointed out that the history of systemic racism in this country means that Black, Indigenous and other people of color will pay a disproportionate price for this ruling. Low-income people will struggle to access health care that better-off individuals can seek across state lines. And the lack of access to reproductive health care has severe long-term economic consequences for women and their families. These are all true, and yet this is even bigger than any of that.

What’s the plan when pandemic aid ends?

Posted by Jack Hoffman on June 9, 2022 at 3:26 pm | * Comments (1)

In the past few years, Vermont has gotten a taste of what it would be like to have a state that worked for everyone who lives here. Thanks to extraordinary federal relief in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state received billions of dollars that allowed policy makers, at least for a time, to acknowledge and address gaps that had been lingering for decades: health care, child care, livable incomes, and clean water to name a few. Read more

A flexible, effective revenue adjustment tool

Posted by Jack Hoffman on May 12, 2022 at 2:56 pm | Comments Off on A flexible, effective revenue adjustment tool

Twenty years ago, Vermont lost a valuable tool that let the state easily adjust state revenues to respond to fluctuating demands for public services. It’s time to find a replacement.

In 2002, the state ended the simple, straightforward system for assessing personal income taxes that had been in place for more than 30 years. Vermont stopped using the “piggyback,” whereby the amount of income tax a person owed to Montpelier was calculated from the amount owed to Uncle Sam. Typically, the rate was about 25 percent of a person’s federal tax liability. But it varied, which was the beauty of that system.

Vermont started using the piggyback in 1968. As a result, it had one of most progressive personal income taxes in the country because the federal income tax was much more progressive than typical state income taxes. Under the federal system, income is taxed in tiers, and income in the higher tiers is taxed at higher rates than the income in the lower tiers. Such systems are fairer because they better reflect people’s ability to pay. Thanks to the piggyback, Vermont’s income tax system mirrored the progressivity of the federal system.