The Vermont House has given its unanimous support to a tax bill that raises roughly $5 million in new revenue by implementing stronger enforcement efforts and without raising any existing taxes or fees.
Tax bills don't usually get unanimous support but it happened with this legislation. It was approved by a vote of 138 to 0.
The bill also managed to accomplish Gov. Phil Scott's goal to balance next year's state budget without increasing any taxes or fees.
House Ways and Means chairwoman Janet Ancel says it's important to keep some ability to raise revenues in case the state has to deal with any big federal budget cuts this fall.
"So we have not raised taxes and fees in this budget,” said Ancel. “We have preserved whatever additional tax capacity we have for future response to whatever budget cuts come to us."
Ancel says the bill should raise additional money by stricter enforcement of a state law the requires consumers to pay the sales tax for online purchases. She says right now only about 10 percent of Vermonters actually submit this money to the state.
"That means that 90 percent of people don't and we're pretty sure that more people than 10 percent actually owe the use tax,” said Ancel. ”This has been a notoriously difficult tax to collect."
Ancel says an agreement with internet sales giant Amazon to collect Vermont's sales tax will also yield the state around $8 million next year.