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Vermont Legislators Launch Initiative for Cleaner Economy by Lowering Taxes

Bradford, VT – Vermont Representative Sarah Copeland Hanzas, Representative David Deen, and co-sponsors announced a tax reform and climate action proposal today in downtown Bradford.

The proposal would phase out the Vermont sales tax, making border businesses more competitive with neighboring states and leveling the playing field between Vermont small businesses and on-line retailers. To fund this initiative, the bill implements a gradually rising fee on carbon dioxide pollution to be paid by the companies that distribute fossil fuels in Vermont.

“This bill does three good things. It eliminates the regressive Vermont sales tax which has been driving customers across the river and hurting border businesses in towns like Bradford for 50 years. It helps Vermont brick-and-mortar businesses compete with on-line retailers and it puts a price on the pollution causing climate change,” said Representative Sarah Copeland Hanzas, Orange-2 District. “It aligns our tax code with Vermont’s priorities.”

“Combining action for reducing carbon emissions while reducing the regressive sales tax and helping our businesses compete is a win-win-win,” said Rep David Deen, Windham-4 District. “We don’t get many opportunities like that so we should take advantage of it.”

“As a Vermont retailer, I compete with New Hampshire – a state with no sales tax. Also, with more retail sales happening on the internet, I compete with those sales that often go tax free.
Reduction or elimination of the sales tax would help me to keep more of my business sales circulating within the Vermont economy,” said Nikki Darling, co-owner of North of the Falls gift store in Bradford.

Carbon pollution pricing is used around the world to address climate change and strengthen local economies. Republican Governor Jim Douglas implemented Vermont’s first price on carbon pollution in its electricity sector through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) – and it is working. RGGI states have reduced emissions by 16% more than other states and seen 3.6% more economic growth since RGGI launched, while Vermont has the second lowest electric rates and the fastest GDP growth rate in New England. The bill being proposed Rep. Copeland Hanzas, Deen, Burke, and Mrowicki would expand that successful model to Vermont’s transportation and heating sectors.

Other co-sponsors of the this innovative way to stimulate the economy , create a more level and equitable landscape for taxation and move us towards a cleaner environment also weighed in on this legislative initiative.

“Transportation accounts for about 47% of Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions. The State has made good investments in rail, public transit, bike/pedestrian, and other projects. But we have not yet made significant progress in cutting transportation emissions that contribute to climate change and negatively impact our economy and our health,” said Mollie Burke, Windham-2-2 District. “We need bold action. We can align our tax structure with our priorities by providing sales tax relief, especially to low and middle-income Vermonters, and incentivize the transition to a clean energy economy.”

“Global warming is here, it’s now, and it’s time for us to act. I’m glad to support these actions that represent our Vermont values of both economic and environmental justice,” said Representative Mike Mrowicki, Windham-4 District.

The text of the proposal to phase out the sales tax by instituting a gradually rising carbon pollution price will be available this week on the Vermont Legislature’s website:

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