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Live (Tax) Free or Die

Fall Line
posted: 03/04/2004
by Moira McCarthy

Annoyed at an increasing tax load, Killington, Vt., officials have come up with a novel solution: secede from Vermont and join New Hampshire. "New England is famous for this. Look at the Stamp Act, the Tea Act, the Sugar Act," says Killington Town Manager David Lewis. "We won't be treated as a revenue source."

For years, Killington's robust economy, with its ski shops, restaurants, bars and inns, has been paying $10 million annually in taxes to the state, with only about $1 million in aid being returned. When a new property tax started funneling another $10 million or so out of the resort area to fund schools elsewhere, "that's basically when we felt this has just gone over the line," Lewis says. (New Hampshire, about 25 miles east, doesn't have a sales tax or state income tax.)

Once the town endorses the plan (it's expected to pass overwhelmingly this spring), Killington must ask the State of New Hampshire for permission to come aboard. If New Hampshire Congressman Charles Bass—whose district includes almost all New Hampshire ski resorts—has his way, it's a done deal. "I would be thrilled to ski, shop and stay at Killington, N.H.," he says.

If New Hampshire says yes, Killington must then secure approval from Vermont to secede. Vermont officials, not unexpectedly, won't let their ski resort walk, short of an "armed insurrection," Vermont Secretary of State Deborah Markowitz told the Associated Press. At that point, the town would have to request an Act of Congress to join the Granite State.

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