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Vermont gubernatorial candidates face off over sales tax


 Vermont gubernatorial candidates discuss expanding sales tax to services.

The incumbent governor of Vermont, Peter Shumlin (D), isn’t running for a fourth term. Taking his place on the Democratic ticket is Sue Minter, the state’s former transportation secretary. Her Republican opponent is Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott. The two candidates disagree on many issues, particularly sales tax.

Minter’s platform of tax fairness could lead to an expansion of the sales tax. She said during a radio debate that she’s interested in pursuing certain aspects of an 2011 Blue Ribbon Tax Structure Commission report, which “recommended expanding the sales tax to ‘all consumer-purchased services with limited exceptions for certain health and education services and business to business service transactions.’”

Minter’s administration, according to her, is not interested in implementing all of the commission’s recommendations. The gubernatorial candidate says she would consider expanding sales tax to some services, but would focus on “removing exemptions and loopholes that are used by wealthy residents and businesses.”

Her opponent Scott insists that more than 160 services could be subject to tax under her plan: “Child care, cleaning services, accounting and bookkeeping, home heating maintenance and repair, barbers and hairdressers, website developers — the list goes on and on and on.” His position is simple: “I will veto a new sales tax on services.

Minter stresses that she isn’t interested in taxing haircuts — hers or anyone else’s. But limousine rides and lobbying services could be taxed should she be elected governor.

Businesses must comply, sometimes at great cost, whenever states and localities change tax policies. Vermont sales tax may not change under Minter or Scott, but broadening sales tax has been on the table before and it will likely be again. No matter what the outcome this time, Avalara’s automated end-to-end sales tax solutions can facilitate compliance. Learn more.

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Gail Cole
Avalara Author
Gail Cole
Gail Cole
Avalara Author Gail Cole
Gail began researching and writing about sales tax in 2012 and has been fascinated with it ever since. She has a penchant for uncovering unusual tax facts, and endeavors to make complex sales tax laws more digestible for both experts and laypeople.