House, Senate Reach Agreement On Tax Bill

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(Host) The House and Senate have settled their differences on a tax bill. It’s one of the last pieces of legislative business required before lawmakers can go home for the year.

Negotiations on the tax bill dragged out this week as lawmakers disagreed over cigarette taxes and a potential sales tax on Internet retailers.

In the end, a House-Senate conference committee agreed to raise the cigarette tax by 38 cents a pack. And legislators moved the state a step closer to taxing on-line businesses, such as Amazon.

Calais Democrat Janet Ancel chairs the House Ways and Means Committee. She says the Internet sales tax plan would take effect when 15 other states enact similar provisions.

(Ancel) "You know at some point, these big Internet retailers are building their business on lack of tax compliance, and I think you have to do what you can do to take that on."

(Host) Washington Senator Anne Cummings chairs the Finance Committee. She says senators were worried that Vermont businesses that work with Amazon and other companies could be hurt if the state levied the sales tax on Internet retailers.

(Cummings) "The testimony that we had in the Senate committee was that no state other than New York had collected any additional sales tax revenue. And that not just Amazon but there are other companies with affiliate programs – and the minute they feel they are required to collect sales taxes – they would pull out."

(Host) The tax bill raises about $27 million and is needed to help solve the state’s $176 million budget shortfall.

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