Guest column – The tax person cometh 9/25/08

Sept. 25, 2008
By Doug Ferreira

Taxes have increased considerably in small town Vermont as a result of a required reappraisal. Property prices nationwide have plummeted to an all-time low. Many homes have been foreclosed on, causing entire neighborhoods to end up as ghost towns.

However, property in small town Vermont has skyrocketed. With this real estate boom came, you guessed it, higher taxes. If this is not enough, excuse taxes were added to the tax bill in the form of “view tax,” “non-resident tax” and others. I see a line item on my tax bill for water and sewer, but I have a well and my own septic system.

Many Americans received a rebate check to stimulate the economy. However, this small stimulus check didn’t reach the Vermont economy — it was needed to pay for the small town tax increase. Vermont needs tax reform in a big way. Previous assessments worked well in good times, but are not appropriate during this time of recession.

Tax assessments can be made very simple. Take current, realistic value of property and multiply it by the tax rate; this is the tax applied to the property. No additional (excuse) taxes need to be added; they are already in the current price of the property.

Missouri is known as the “Show me state.” Vermont is known as the “Tax me state.”

Some solutions to the small town tax problem:

1.    Raise the state sales tax 2 or 3 cents. I can afford this easier than coming up with several hundred dollars at the end of the year.

2.    Consolidate jobs and job functions where possible.

3.    Control spending.

4.    Look for efficiencies such as using efficient lighting in offices, prepaying for fuel if possible and turning down thermostats.

5.    Put a cap on how much property taxes can increase in one year.

6.    Use prisoners for jobs when possible. Prisoners are used in California to help fight forest fires. Remember, your taxes pay for prisoners’ three hots and a cot.

7.    Education takes up a large share of taxes. All-day preschool could be subsidized by parents to help defray the cost. This would be a bargain at a group rate, and cheaper than daycare.

8.    Boston had a tea party to protest high taxes. Vermont can have a Land Trust Party in the same way. You could live on the land as a squatter and eliminate property taxes.

I have e-mailed and mailed state and local representatives several times and have received no response, which says it all. They must be ashamed or embarrassed to respond. These officials were elected by the people for the people. Hopefully, they are too busy working on realistic tax reform for the people.

“Uncle” Doug Ferreira is a resident of Richmond.