Public Assets Institute > Press > Press Releases > Florida’s Weather Harder to Beat Than the Taxes

Florida’s Weather Harder to Beat Than the Taxes


Paul Cillo or Jack Hoffman
Public Assets Institute

MONTPELIER – Weather and taxes are the reasons Vermonters often give for moving to Florida. But the key to lower property taxes in the Sunshine State is owning a less expensive home.

At least that was the case for a prominent Burlington accountant who recently offered a public explanation for why he and his wife were “abandoning Vermont.” The accountant said Vermont’s taxes had finally driven them out. He criticized changes the Legislature made this year to the income tax – capping the deduction for state income taxes and the partial closure of a capital gains tax loophole. The accountant also complained about property taxes, saying on property of similar value, Vermont’s taxes were three times higher than Florida’s.

In a case study released today, Public Assets Institute found that the difference in the accountant’s property tax bills is due to the difference in property values. The Vermont property is assessed at $1,041,900; the Florida property, which is classified as a working farm, is assessed at $209,000. The Vermont taxes are $12,359; the Florida taxes are about $3,256.

“Before we can have a rational discussion of tax policy in Vermont, we need to separate fact from fiction about our current tax system,” said Paul Cillo, executive director of Public Assets Institute.

“We hear anecdotes all the time about people moving away because of Vermont’s taxes, but we rarely get enough details to analyze the claims,” Cillo continued. “In this case, the accountant wrote an op-ed article, saying he owned property of similar value in South Hero, Vt., and Ocala, Fla., and that his Vermont property taxes were three times his Florida property taxes. We decided to check it out.”

“The accountant could have reduced his property tax bill as much or more by moving into a $476,000 Vermont farm enrolled in our current use program,” Cillo said. “Admittedly, he couldn’t play golf all year long, and there’d be a lot more snow to deal with. But if his goal was to reduce his property taxes, he could have done that without leaving.”

Cillo also suggested that the weather might be the real draw for people to flee south. In the case study, Public Assets found that more people from New Hampshire than from Vermont moved to Florida in 2007. Like Florida, New Hampshire has no state income tax, so lower taxes would not explain the New Hampshire emigration.

In his op-ed article, the accountant said nothing about his income, so it is not known whether he would be eligible for a property tax adjustment under Vermont’s education funding system. If he were eligible, he could reduce his Vermont tax bill substantially.

Public Assets Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that promotes sound budget and tax policies to benefit all Vermonters. Additional information is available at

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