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Legislature OK’s Brandon’s local option tax

BRANDON — Better late than never. The Brandon Option Tax was the last bill passed out of the Senate Finance Committee and approved by the Legislature before the end of this year’s legislative session.
Local Representatives Steve Carr and Butch Shaw were monitoring the bill as it slowly made its way and then sat in committee for weeks until the last day of the session on May 6.
Now that the tax has legislative approval as required by statute, it can be signed by the governor. Then, local businesses can start adding a one percent tax on sales, rooms, meals and alcohol sales.
Brandon voters approve the necessary town charter change and the establishment of the option tax by a vote of 328-132 in November. The charter language specified that the option tax funds collected will be used solely for town capital projects, meaning public works and/or infrastructure projects.
It is estimated that Brandon could collect roughly $120,000 a year from the option tax.
Many other Vermont towns currently collect an option tax, including Middlebury, Rutland Town and Killington.
The State Department of Taxation and Finance oversees collection of the option tax, where 30 percent would be paid to the state and 70 percent would go to the town on a quarterly basis. Revenues from the tax will be used strictly for municipal purposes and not for education expenditures, according to state statute.
The question now is, when can Brandon innkeepers and restaurant owners start charging the one percent tax? Brandon Select Board Vice-Chair Seth Hopkins, who helped shepherd the charter change to a vote and get the tax bill to the legislature, said he is still hoping the tax will be implemented this summer. The problem is, Gov. Peter Shumlin has to sign the bill before the tax can go into effect.
“I have not heard that the Governor signed it yet, so we are waiting,” Hopkins said Tuesday. “That’s the signal. Once it’s signed, the Tax Department will notify business owners to start collecting the tax.”

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