Revenues & Expenditures: 6. Vermont’s State Government Service Revenues

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With tax revenues down 1.8% in fiscal year 2017, the state government had to rely more heavily on government service charges, which increased by $54.9 million, to $808 million.

Many of these “service charges” are basically a type of tax. If you want to own and drive a car, you need to pay registration fees and driving license fees. If you want to perfect a security interest, you need to pay UCC filing fees. If you want to fish or hunt, you need to buy a license. If you want to work in some 50 designated professions, you need a business license from the state.

In the table below, The Informed Vermonter has attempted to identify all the Service Charges earned by Vermont’s state government.

Vermont State Government Service Charges ($ millions)

Service Charge Fiscal Year 2017 Fiscal Year 2016 Change in 2017
Unemployment Compensation 143.1 143.6 (0.5)
Liquor Control 63.2 60.7 2.5
Lottery Tickets 122.4 124.3 (1.9)
Other Business Activities 5.5 8.7 (3.2)
Fees 156.0 107.6 48.4
Rent & Lease Receipts 5.1 5.3 (0.2)
Sales & Service Charges 12.3 12.6 (0.3)
Fines & Penalties 13.6 18.3 (4.7)
Business Licenses 26.9 21.9 5.0
Non-Business Licenses 103.7 98.0 5.7
Special Assessments 89.3 81.8 7.5
Other 66.9 70.3 (3.4)
TOTAL 808.0 753.1 54.9

Source: Vermont Comprehensive Annual Financial Report Fiscal Year 2017 and 2016

 

Much of the above is self explanatory, but a few clarifications may be helpful.

Unemployment Compensation: All employers are required to pay unemployment compensation insurance taxes. In fiscal year 2017, tax receipts greatly exceeded claims paid (Vermont now has only a 2.9% unemployment rate). The excess of $74.3 million is not available for state government expenditures. Instead, it is deposited in a trust fund for the benefit of future claim payments when unemployment rates could be higher.

Liquor Control: The operating costs of Liquor Control are almost equal to its revenues. It contributed only $2.3 million of operating income to the state’s coffers in fiscal year 2017.

Lottery: After payouts and operating expenses, the state lottery contributed about $25.5 million to the state government.

Fees: It would appear the state government raised fees in 2017, as they increased by 45%. There are a wide variety of fees charges by the state. Every level of the judiciary, from the Small Claims Court to the Supreme Court, imposes a variety of fees. There are fees to access and copy all manner of public records. There are a large number of recurring business registration fees, UCC filing fees, Amusement Ride Fees, Telemarketer Registration Fees, Fantasy Sports Operator Fees and Administration Fees. The list goes on and on.

Non-Business Licenses: Automobile licenses represent the largest share of this category, which are dedicated to fund the Agency of Transportation. Hunting & Fishing license revenues are also in this category, and those revenues all go to the Agency of Natural Resources.

 

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