Impending Property Tax Issues for Vermont
Posted by WCAX, 4/21/2020, By Calvin Cutler - Vt. towns, state brace for collapse in property taxes
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) While Vermont finances were strong back in the beginning of March, COVID-19 and the subsequent mass layoffs will take a big toll on both state and municipal tax revenues in the months ahead.
COVID-19 is clobbering tax revenue -- from income Vermonters are not earning to consumption taxes not being generated in stores, car dealers, restaurants and hotels.
"We're concerned about every fund, every source of revenue and we're seeing this across the board," Gov. Phil Scott said Monday.
There's also concern about Vermonters not being able to pay their property taxes to fund municipalities and schools. Even though those taxes are more robust than consumption taxes, the Vermont League of Cities and Town's Karen Horn says they are expected to decline. "Those payments are going to be lower than expected, there will be delinquencies they can't pay," she said.
Now, some Vermont towns are looking for ways to delay the taxing periods so that taxpayers can catch up. "The problem is, we don't know what this is. It's being controlled by a virus. We have no model that says in six weeks everything is going to be good and people are going back to work," said Sen. Ann Cummings, D-Washington County.
Horn says the VLCT wants the Legislature to give municipalities the authority to lower their own tax rates and waive the 8% fee when property owners are late on their taxes. She says it's aimed at helping people who've lost income during the crisis and can't pay their taxes.
"Eventually, your house goes to tax sale -- nobody wants that to happen right now," Horn said.
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