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How Vt. hopes to shame delinquent taxpayers into paying up - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

How Vt. hopes to shame delinquent taxpayers into paying up

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MONTPELIER, Vt. -

The state of Vermont is zeroing in on the 100 businesses and 100 individuals who owe the most taxes. If you add up the debt, it's a combined total of $33 million. A last-minute tax bill compromise at the Statehouse will soon give the tax department a new tool to collect.

"Certainly it's just not fair to the rest of the taxpayers if people aren't paying what they owe," Vt. Tax Commissioner Mary Peterson said.

Beginning in 2015 and following correspondence from the tax department, top offenders' names will be listed on the department's website.

"They're not going to be surprised; they're going to have the opportunity to pay up before any list is published," Peterson said.

About half the states in the country and most in our region post similar delinquent taxpayer listings. Peterson says her peers in other states tell her the shame campaign could bring inasmuch as 3 percent of what's owed. That would translate to a million extra dollars in state coffers.

Certified Public Accountant Rick Wolfish says he testified before the state's money committees on proposed tax policies back in February. He concedes the plan could work, but the last-minute, closed-door negotiations mean there's no data to back up the assertion on the legislative record.

Wolfish said, "When you sneak a law in the last day or hours of the session, who knows what's passed, who knows what the ramifications will be, who even knows if it's legal?"

"It's a bit of a different route and we're going to be really careful in instituting this," Peterson said.

Local municipalities across the state do post delinquent property taxes. However, other tax data like capital gains and income are confidential. Peterson says she's confident the program will be administered in a responsible manner.

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