Source: Vermont Department of Taxes

A simple check-off box added to the 2013 Vermont State Individual Tax Return has significantly increased the number of people who declare out-of-state and online purchases.

By law the use tax, similar to the sales tax, is levied on many of the purchases, although the state has no way of tracking them.

In the past the majority of taxpayers simply left the line blank on the tax form instead of calculating their use tax.

This year the state added a line that reads “Check here to certify that no Use Tax is due.”

After fighting about this issue in the final days of the session, the two sides did agree to work together over the summer but some major disagreements have emerged right at the start.

The two sides do agree on one thing. To determine a person’s tax burden, they want to shift from using an individual’s “taxable income,” to what’s known as “adjusted gross income.” This number is larger because it comes before applying a series of deductions. 

If you use this “adjusted gross” number, and most states do, you can lower the tax rate without changing a person’s tax burden.

Toby Talbot / AP

Legislative leaders decided on Monday not to challenge Gov. Peter Shumlin over their plan to lower income tax rates.

The key to the deal was the assurance by the governor that he will work with lawmakers on a similar tax plan next January.

Democratic leaders at the Statehouse didn’t relish the possibility of getting into a major fight over taxes with a governor from their own party in the final days of the session.

VPR/Kirk Carapezza

With the support of some members of the Vermont business community, the House on Friday morning finalized a bill to require labeling food that contains genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. The vote was 99-42.

Hundreds of businesses and all 17 of the state’s food cooperatives have expressed their support for GMO labeling.

Legislative leaders are working on a new tax plan that could put Governor Peter Shumlin in an awkward position.

For most of the session, the tax committees at the Statehouse worked on a plan to raise new revenue by capping income tax deductions and by imposing a minimum 3 percent tax rate for everyone who makes more than $125,000.

But the plan seemed to be dead when the Governor and Legislative leaders announced a deal to balance the state budget without raising any taxes.

VPR/Kirk Carapezza

Governor Peter Shumlin and Legislative leaders have agreed on a plan to balance next year’s budget without raising new taxes but some changes to the income tax could still happen.

For weeks the Administration and legislative leaders have been negotiating over the size of next year’s budget and the tax package that would be needed to support the budget plan.

Then, at the end of last week, they got the unexpected good news that revenues for April were $16 million higher than expected.

The Senate has passed a tax bill that raises $10 million in new revenue but it faces the strong opposition of Governor Peter Shumlin.

With very little debate or opposition, the Senate gave its strong support to its 2013 tax bill. The legislation uses four primary sources to raise the additional revenue.

It caps the amount of mortgage interest that can be deducted on the income tax, it imposes a minimum 3 percent tax for all people who earn more than $125,000, it applies the sales tax to bottled water and it places a tax on satellite TV services.

AP/Toby Talbot

At the Statehouse today, lawmakers are spending much of their time on the House and Senate floor debating a slew of bills. The only thing that’s certain, though, is death and taxes.

VPR/Bob Kinzel

Governor Peter Shumlin and the Senate Finance committee are on a collision course concerning a new tax package.

The Governor didn’t like the tax package that was passed by the House last month and he doesn’t think m

uch of the proposal being crafted by the Senate Finance committee.

The committee’s draft plan caps mortgage interest deductions on the income tax, it creates a new minimum income tax rate and it imposes the sales tax on bottled water.

The Governor made it clear that he opposes the committee’s approach.

The Vermont House this morning approved a compromise transportation bill that will raise gas and diesel taxes on May 1.

House Transportation Committee Chairman Pat Brennan, R-Colchester, said the bill strikes a middle ground between the House and Senate versions.

“With a little back and forth I think we’ve come to a place where we can actually make this tax package a little more palatable, if that’s possible,” he said.