Tax Cut is Key Component of Dunne’s Comprehensive Policy Agenda on Aging in Vermont
White River Junction, VT: – Matt Dunne, Democratic candidate for governor, today unveiled a comprehensive senior citizen policy platform including a proposal to exempt middle class Vermonters’ Social Security income from all state tax and benefit calculations. Matt made the announcement following a visit to the Bugbee Senior Center in White River Junction.
“The tax on Social Security income is regressive, and hits seniors living on fixed incomes when they can least afford it,” said Matt Dunne, Democratic candidate for governor. “As governor, I will put an end to taxing our middle class seniors’ hard earned Social Security income at the state level, because we shouldn’t be funding government on the backs of those who can afford it the least.”
Currently, Social Security income that is taxable at the federal level is also counted as part of Vermont taxable income. In addition, all Social Security income is included in the definition of Vermont household income, which is used to calculate benefits such as property tax adjustments and renter rebates.
Moreover, it is often considered a double tax because earned income tax is calculated before Social Security contributions are withheld. This means that wages are taxed before an income earner pays into the Social Security system, and then, if the federal income threshold is met, Social Security benefits are taxed at the time they are received.
Dunne’s plan would make Social Security income exempt from Vermont state tax for middle class households earning 150% of VT median household income. Currently, joint filers with more than $32,000 in income and single filers with more than $25,000 in income pay Federal and Vermont state taxes on their Social Security income.
In addition to the middle class tax cut, Dunne also unveiled his comprehensive policy platform addressing the challenges currently confronting Vermont’s seniors.
“I am proud to have been fighting for Vermont’s seniors from my first days as a state legislator,” said Dunne. “I co-sponsored a plan to allow Medicare reimbursements for home care, so seniors could choose to age in place, and I teamed up with Peter Welch to fight a large Vermont employer that had summarily canceled retiree benefits. At Google, I funded a successful internet training program for seniors to help protect them from online scams. But there is much more to do to improve the quality of life for seniors in our state.”
As Governor, Matt will:
- Support services that keep our seniors active, connected, and healthy by supporting senior centers so that aging Vermonters have a vibrant community hub, which is essential for well-being. Additionally, he will enhance the Meals on Wheels program and expand the SeniorCorps programs, which provide great value to both seniors and their communities.
- Change the way property taxes are levied to reflect seniors’ ability to pay, revising the tax code to recognize that many seniors live on fixed incomes and do not have increased ability to pay rising property taxes even when their property increases in value. No senior should be forced from their home by skyrocketing property taxes.
- Establish a public retirement plan, setting up retirement savings accounts for Vermonters whose employers don’t offer them, and make it easy to contribute through voluntary payroll deductions. This will help Vermonters retire with dignity and save the state millions of dollars by reducing reliance on state supports.
- Get prescription drug prices under control by pursuing creative options, including bulk purchasing or re-importation from Canada, to make sure seniors on fixed incomes have access to life extending medicines.
- Encourage video-conferencing for health check-ins and other needs to improve information access and quality of life for seniors living in isolation. Whether seniors need to talk to a medical professional, or simply connect to friends and family, this easy to use, intuitive technology can make a profound difference in seniors’ lives.
- Get caught up on affordable housing by making investments in housing in walkable downtowns, where aging Vermonters can walk to grocery stores, libraries and other amenities.
- Enhance our utility rate-payer advocacy group. Moving the rate-payer advocacy group out of the commissioner’s office and into the Attorney General’s office will ensure its work is clearly aligned with the best interest of our citizens, including seniors who are often disproportionately hit by misleading utility contracts.
- Unleash the power of our retired professionals to help get more Vermonters to college through a new Seniors to Seniors Program, which will match high school students with retired professionals who can help them prepare for standardized tests, make them aware of the many higher education options available, including online and distance learning, and can help work through the maze of paperwork required for financial aid and scholarships.
- Provide scam education and protection by increasing our commitment to protecting and educating our citizens about scams of all types, from phone solicitations to knocks at the door, as well as provide a help-line for anyone to ask about suspicious activity.
- Introduce ride-sharing programs where public transportation isn’t available. Ride-sharing programs that allow seniors to request a ride when they need it, at a lower cost than traditional taxi services, can be an easy and cost-effective solution for aging Vermonters facing decreased mobility in our rural state.
To learn more about Matt’s policy proposals, visit www.MattDunne.com