Monday, June 07, 2010

Vermont homestead property tax adjustment can reveal income

"A local attorney has filed a complaint with Bennington Superior Court which asks the court to compel Manchester to release information that town officials say could lead to sensitive information being revealed, not just about Manchester residents but about people across Vermont.

The lawsuit seeks to make the town reveal the specific amount supplied by the state for homestead property tax adjustment. Manchester Town Manager John O'Keefe said the town doesn't want to release that information because it could be used to very accurately calculate a person's income.

The Vermont attorney general's office and the Department of Taxes say the information is public, but Secretary of State Deborah Markowitz said last year that she was advising towns the information should be confidential. Even after the attorney general's office weighed in, Markowitz said recently she thought the "language of the law is still vague."

The lawsuit filed against Manchester came as no surprise. O'Keefe said last month he expected it was coming. But now that it's been filed and with O'Keefe saying the town intends to stick to its position, the question may soon get a definitive answer." 

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