Daily Archives: February 12, 2016

Our favorite Taxation Imp strikes again

As is customary on Thursdays, yesterday’s edition of the Burlington Free Press* once again was graced by the comedy stylings of Art Woolf, Vermont’s Loudest Economist. This time, Art was letting us know just how difficult it is to be rich.

*Newsstand price now a DOLLAR-FIFTY!!! for a few pages of wire copy and recycled USA TODAY “content.” I’d like to see Professor Woolf’s cost/benefit analysis of that little bargain.

No, seriously. The One Percent have it rough. Here’s how it starts.

Rich get richer, pay more taxes

In 2014, the state collected $650 million in income taxes from Vermonters. High income Vermonters continue to pay a very large share of that.

Well yeah, because they make most of the money.

He goes on to break down tax collections by income bracket in a way that emphasizes just how much we peasants are benefiting from the forced largesse of Our Betters. Which, if you consider state income tax in isolation, is true; the more money you make, the more taxes you pay.

But when you consider the entire burden of state and local taxes, you flip the script. Here’s a handy chart from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), showing Vermont’s total tax burden.

ITEP chart

That’s right. In Vermont, the rich get off easy and the middle class takes it in the shorts.

See, our income tax is reasonably progressive, but our other primary taxes are not. Sales taxes are strongly regressive, hitting the poorest people hardest. Property taxes slam the middle classes. Add ‘em all up, and that chart is what you get.

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Hey, remember when the world ended?

It wasn’t that long ago.

Our nation’s media went on high alert. Republicans fell all over themselves trying to spread politically-harvestable panic and blaming President Obama for endangering our nation. In Vermont, all eyes turned to the curious story of a homeless guy who called himself a doctor. Yup, remember Peter Italia?

It was the fall of 2014, and the cause of the imminent apocalypse was the Ebola virus.

Well, we’re still here. And look at this notice from the Vermont Department of Health:

In a Health Advisory on October 31, 2014, the Health Department issued Ebola preparedness guidance for health care settings. The guidance included an Ebola-specific patient advisory sign that could be used to help identify patients with Ebola virus disease. Use of this sign may now be discontinued. 

Widespread transmission of Ebola in West Africa has been controlled, although additional cases may continue to occur sporadically. The CDC has changed its country classification for Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to “countries with former widespread transmission and current, established control measures.” As a result, the Health Department has discontinued active monitoring for individuals who have returned from travel to these countries.

(Bold type used by the Health Department.) How about that. Quite impressive, really. I remember when it was thought impossible to control a new virus in a place as dark, untamed, and backward as the stereotype of Africa we have in our minds. The best we could do was to wall ourselves off.

Of course, we moved on from that apocalypse long ago, so you might be forgiven for not remembering the brief Ebola Panic that infected far more people than the Ebola virus itself ever did. Fortunately, the only health effects of Ebola Panic are transitory elevations in blood pressure and a compulsion to watch cable news.

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