Vermont child tax credit could mean more money for families

Published: Feb. 11, 2022 at 5:35 PM EST
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont House lawmakers this week gave the greenlight to a sweeping plan to put more money in parents’ pockets.

The Vermont Child Tax Credit is similar to the federal benefit parents received last year.

Sage Barber lives in Brookfield with her husband and three kids, ages 2, 4 and 7.

She says on three separate occasions last year, they had to call a plumber to fix their toilet.

“Normally we would have to put it on our credit card or onto our line of credit or out of our savings for our taxes,” Barber said.

Barber was one of the thousands of Vermont parents who received a monthly child tax credit funded through the American Rescue Plan. She put much of it into savings, car repair and that troublesome toilet.

“I could just feel how much calmer it was in me knowing that there was a little buffer,” she said.

House lawmakers this week gave the greenlight to a $50 million Vermont Child Tax Credit, with

$1,200 per child 6 and under split between two annual payments.

“You get the return in terms of the well-being of the child right in the moment and you get those returns down the road in terms of better health and earnings,” said Michell Fay of Voices for Vermont Children.

The credit applies to families making less than $220,000 annually.

Some GOP lawmakers wanted to cap the benefit at $100,000 and invest the $11 million savings into a tax credit for Vermont nurses.

“That would help alleviate some of the problems that we have out there. This wasn’t totally created by coronavirus but it certainly has exacerbated it,” said Rep. Rob LaClair, R-Barre Town.

But the amendment failed.

This proposal may end up on the desk of Gov. Phil Scott, who pitched his own sweeping tax proposal. A spokesperson for the governor says the proposed child tax credit would help about 10% of taxpayers while the governor’s plan would help about a quarter.

At a recent press conference, Vermont Tax Commissioner Craig Bolio explained the strategy behind the governor’s proposed tax package aimed at middle-income earners and retirees.

“It is meaningful, it is progressive and it will help provide relief for Vermonters through several different stages of their lives,” Bolio said on Feb. 2.

The swath of tax proposals from Democrats and Republicans are paid for with a surplus in the general fund. Lawmakers say they are all aimed at bringing more people into the state and reversing demographic trends. But the best way to accomplish that is up for debate.

The child tax credit now heads to the Senate where they’re expected to pick it up next week.

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