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Archive for August, 2016

 

Peter Miller, peter@petermillerphotography.com 25 August.

We Vermonters who work for ourselves are suffering. Let’s put it this way. The average Vermonter has very little disposable income. State, town, school taxes and fees, property and school taxes, the 5th highest electrical rate in the country, above average costs of fuel oil, propane and gas make us downright poor. Our state government is spending more than it takes from us

Vermonters who have read my book, A Lifetime of Vermont People, email or visit. “We love Vermont,” they say, “we have family here, but our pension is too small.” Some sell, some can’t find a buyer. Younger people leave the state looking for decent paying jobs.

Vermont statistic trackers say enough new comers are moving in to balance the disenfranchised that are leaving. The head on this Forbes article, from last April, says it all: Tax Happy Vermont Becoming A State Where Only The Rich Can Afford To Live.

The rural Vermont culture of self-government, earning enough to get by and that inner sense of being a Vermonter is being replaced by a homogenized, wealthier, more sophisticated “transplant”. Some of these new Vermonters adapt beautifully to our Vermont Way, as I have. Many, though, carry their home state on their backs when they arrive. They want dirt roads paved and fancy sport facilities. The need dog parks and larger police department that will respond to calls when somebody they don’t recognize walks near their home.

They have deeper pockets than the self employed Vermonter so they buy homes and tear them down to put up larger and more expensive structures. They apply for town positions or are elected to the state legislature and create new bills to raise the cost of living. A new culture is nudging out our rural way of life. Long time residents from New Hampshire and Maine who have stopped in my Waterbury gallery say that is also happening in their state. .

I am a writer and photographer and my professions have been mangled in this century by the digital revolution. I started an Airbnb and decorated the rooms with my photographs and installed a photo library. Even so, I had to borrow to pay my property tax, the first time since I have been filing in this state since the 1950’s. And you know, I prefer writing and photography to being a chambermaid!

I have a new book project because of comments made to me by stressed-out Vermonters.. The Vanishing Vermonter, The Loss of a Rural Culture, will be published in the spring of 2017. So far I have interviewed and photographed nine people who expressed their thoughts on this “new” Vermont. How will I pay for it? I will crowd fund and put up on my blog sections of the book as I write them. (www.petermillerphotography.com).

Paul Hannon-7

Paul Hannon, master mechanic and owner of his Irasburg Garage for 30 years.

Paul Hannon is a mechanic who for 30 years has owned a garage in North Irasburg. He is the first person I interviewed for The Vanishing Vermonter. When we ended our interview he said, with a sigh,

“I am losing hope”

Vermont is a bellwether state. Our canary in the cage is gasping, our lead sheep is bleating. The hope and pride of my people has become fragile.

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I Am Vermont Broke

Peter Miller, peter@petermillerphotography.com 25 August 2016.

We Vermonters who work for ourselves are suffering. Let’s put it this way. The average Vermonter has very little disposable income. State, town, school taxes and fees, property and school taxes, the 5th highest electrical rate in the country, above average costs of fuel oil, propane and gas make us downright poor. Our state government is spending more than it takes from us

Vermonters who have read my book, A Lifetime of Vermont People, email or visit. “We love Vermont,” they say, “we have family here, but our pension is too small.” Some sell, some can’t find a buyer. Younger people leave the state looking for decent paying jobs.

Vermont statistic trackers say enough new comers are moving in to balance the disenfranchised that are leaving. The head on this Forbes article, from last April, says it all: Tax Happy Vermont Becoming A State Where Only The Rich Can Afford To Live.

The rural Vermont culture of self-government, earning enough to get by and that inner sense of being a Vermonter is being replaced by a homogenized, wealthier, more sophisticated “transplant”. Some of these new Vermonters adapt beautifully to our Vermont Way, as I have. Many, though, carry their home state on their backs when they arrive. They want dirt roads paved and fancy sport facilities. The need dog parks and larger police department that will respond to calls when somebody they don’t recognize walks near their home.

They have deeper pockets than the self employed Vermonter so they buy homes and tear them down to put up larger and more expensive structures. They apply for town positions or are elected to the state legislature and create new bills to raise the cost of living. A new culture is nudging out our rural way of life. Long time residents from New Hampshire and Maine who have stopped in my Waterbury gallery say that is also happening in their state. .

I am a writer and photographer and my professions have been mangled in this century by the digital revolution. I started an Airbnb and decorated the rooms with my photographs and installed a photo library. Even so, I had to borrow to pay my property tax, the first time since I have been filing in this state since the 1950’s. And you know, I prefer writing and photography to being a chambermaid!

I have a new book project because of comments made to me by stressed-out Vermonters.. The Vanishing Vermonter, The Loss of a Rural Culture, will be published in the spring of 2017. So far I have interviewed and photographed nine people who expressed their thoughts on this “new” Vermont. How will I pay for it? I will crowd fund and put up on my blog sections of the book as I write them. (www.petermillerphotography.com).

Paul Hannon-7

Paul Hannon, master mechanic and owner of his Irasburg Garage for 30 years.

Paul Hannon is a mechanic who for 30 years has owned a garage in North Irasburg. He is the first person I interviewed for The Vanishing Vermonter. When we ended our interview he said, with a sigh,

“I am losing hope”

Vermont is a bellwether state. Our canary in the cage is gasping, our lead sheep is bleating. The hope and pride of my people has become fragile.

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August 9, 2016 by peter@petermillerphotography.com | Edit

I wrote this letter last year and did not send it. Eventually my penalty rose to $7,000 and out of state lawyers were involved. I finally paid the quarter I missed due to a heart attack. The amount was, as I recall, about $80. Read on…

**********************

Peter Miller
20 Crossroad
Waterbury, VT 05676

Vermont Dept. of Taxes
PO Box 547
Montpelier, VT 05601

Dec. 7, 2015

Taxpayer ID XX-XXX9480

There is never a name—a real person to respond to—so I assume this goes either to the top of the ladder—the tax commissioner—or the bottom rung echelon, which may be you. I have sent a copy to both of you.

You say my sales tax and penalty is $3,096.67. When I saw that figure I thought you billed the wrong Peter Miller. Why, last year my total income was $10,000 and this year in November I went down to less than $1,000 as the total amount of money I had to my name.

I own no stocks. I have a mortgage on my house appraised at $303,000 but a real estate agent said I would walk away with less than $150,000, taking into account the value of the lot and the condition on a 165-year-old house and my mortgage. My house is not an asset; it is a liability.

I borrowed on my life insurance that was to pay for end-of-life expenses; I have a few cents in saving. I do have Social Security and book sales, a few photo sales, and my new Airbnb has allowed me to stave off a tax sale. Maybe you might still win out.

I am 81; I have no job except my wits. I can write and photograph, and I have done regional books and many Vermonters write me about the sorry state of their income and the direction of this state as one of the most expensive in the country.

Let me explain before I get into my sales tax. To many of us who are self employed we have little discretionary income. Most of what we have is reserved for taxes, to keep our homes from being sold because we can’t keep up and of course energy costs are a killer. I am just finishing up paying for last year.

There are so many fees that the state has created or raised. Thank god I had a tax rebate this year or I wouldn’t be living in Vermont. Food costs have also crept up; we can’t often afford local fresh food (I took a break from writing this letter and signed up with the Food Shelf and received two bags of canned produce, some milk, butter and eggs).

Yes, there are plumbers and electricians who charge $100 an hour. When I consider the time I spend writing and producing books my pay is probably less than $5 an hour but I do pay for the expenses I incur in producing books or photographs. I just don’t have enough to pay for me.

The arts have taken a big hit in this economy and here in Vermont many believe that all artists need to exist is air. The other problem is that the digital revolution has crippled photographers as the business types lower our commissions and fees so they can sell more and keep a larger portion of the money pie. Galleries usually keep 50% of every sale.

What I am really saying is that we Vermonters—those of us who are the core of our state— are Vermont Broke.

Now back to my sales tax. I had to cut back on the use of my bookkeeper because of these costs and that means I prepare the sales tax. I thought we paid sales tax once a year but I was wrong when I looked at my sales tax book. I also thought I was caught up because there were no more pages to estimate my taxes.

At any rate, I did pay my sales tax of $355 for the first quarter of this year. In the last few months I also had so few sales from my home gallery that this income is negligible. For the last two quarters my sales tax is, from checks, 1,432.65. More people pay in cash, sometimes only $3.00 for a notecard or $40 for a book; I have estimated these cash payments by adding $1,500. There are some in state credit card used and my bookkeeper has to figure those out. It’s on the computer but I don’t know how to find it.

So I am sending you a check for $400, which I assume is more than I earned with sales tax. Most of my income is from bookstores, out of state agencies and publishers. I now have about $2,500 to last me through Christmas. Most will be used for electricity, water and fuel and propane.

However, I have no sales tax forms to fill. Will you send some?

As far as all that money you assessed me—your penalties are more than I have in my checking account. This year I created an Airbnb in my home to keep living in Vermont but I may have to move anyway. Many Vermonters, those who are self employed and made this state what it is, are furious at the state legislators, who spend freely. Vermonters that live month to month, frugally, grumble they do not like to pay for all the perks bureaucrats receive (and also those who work for large corporations). They realize that by moving to certain states they can lower their overhead and buy a turkey for Christmas. Me? I’m getting a ham from the Food Shelf!

Sincerely,

Peter Miller

Here are excerpts from two letters I received:

“We have given up on our dream of building a house on our land in Walden. The state legislature’s two bills concerning a carbon tax are what really scared us into that decision. I don’t see how the older population in Vermont will survive the push for more wind and solar farms and the costs associated with migrating off fossil fuels. We just wanted to live out our retirement years in peace and quiet, staying warm, enjoying nature, family and friends. Looks like we’ll be doing that in Maine.”

“I cannot ell you how much your new book (A Lifetime of Vermont People) means to me. I was moved to tears after I bought a copy in St. Johnsbury and pulled over at a rest stop and began to turn the pages. This sudden release of emotion surprised me and when I thought about why I think it was because of who and what we have lost here in the state I call home.”

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I wrote this letter last year and did not send it. Eventually my penalty rose to $7,000 and out of state lawyers were involved. I finally paid the quarter I missed due to a heart attack. The amount was, as I recall, about $80. Read on…

**********************

Peter Miller
20 Crossroad
Waterbury, VT 05676

Vermont Dept. of Taxes
PO Box 547
Montpelier, VT 05601

Dec. 7, 2015

Taxpayer ID XX-XXX9480

There is never a name—a real person to respond to—so I assume this goes either to the top of the ladder—the tax commissioner—or the bottom rung echelon, which may be you. I have sent a copy to both of you.

You say my sales tax and penalty is $3,096.67. When I saw that figure I thought you billed the wrong Peter Miller. Why, last year my total income was $10,000 and this year in November I went down to less than $1,000 as the total amount of money I had to my name.

I own no stocks. I have a mortgage on my house appraised at $303,000 but a real estate agent said I would walk away with less than $150,000, taking into account the value of the lot and the condition on a 165-year-old house and my mortgage. My house is not an asset; it is a liability.

I borrowed on my life insurance that was to pay for end-of-life expenses; I have a few cents in saving. I do have Social Security and book sales, a few photo sales, and my new Airbnb has allowed me to stave off a tax sale. Maybe you might still win out.

I am 81; I have no job except my wits. I can write and photograph, and I have done regional books and many Vermonters write me about the sorry state of their income and the direction of this state as one of the most expensive in the country.

Let me explain before I get into my sales tax. To many of us who are self employed we have little discretionary income. Most of what we have is reserved for taxes, to keep our homes from being sold because we can’t keep up and of course energy costs are a killer. I am just finishing up paying for last year.

There are so many fees that the state has created or raised. Thank god I had a tax rebate this year or I wouldn’t be living in Vermont. Food costs have also crept up; we can’t often afford local fresh food (I took a break from writing this letter and signed up with the Food Shelf and received two bags of canned produce, some milk, butter and eggs).

Yes, there are plumbers and electricians who charge $100 an hour. When I consider the time I spend writing and producing books my pay is probably less than $5 an hour but I do pay for the expenses I incur in producing books or photographs. I just don’t have enough to pay for me.

The arts have taken a big hit in this economy and here in Vermont many believe that all artists need to exist is air. The other problem is that the digital revolution has crippled photographers as the business types lower our commissions and fees so they can sell more and keep a larger portion of the money pie. Galleries usually keep 50% of every sale.

What I am really saying is that we Vermonters—those of us who are the core of our state— are Vermont Broke.

Now back to my sales tax. I had to cut back on the use of my bookkeeper because of these costs and that means I prepare the sales tax. I thought we paid sales tax once a year but I was wrong when I looked at my sales tax book. I also thought I was caught up because there were no more pages to estimate my taxes.

At any rate, I did pay my sales tax of $355 for the first quarter of this year. In the last few months I also had so few sales from my home gallery that this income is negligible. For the last two quarters my sales tax is, from checks, 1,432.65. More people pay in cash, sometimes only $3.00 for a notecard or $40 for a book; I have estimated these cash payments by adding $1,500. There are some in state credit card used and my bookkeeper has to figure those out. It’s on the computer but I don’t know how to find it.

So I am sending you a check for $400, which I assume is more than I earned with sales tax. Most of my income is from bookstores, out of state agencies and publishers. I now have about $2,500 to last me through Christmas. Most will be used for electricity, water and fuel and propane.

However, I have no sales tax forms to fill. Will you send some?

As far as all that money you assessed me—your penalties are more than I have in my checking account. This year I created an Airbnb in my home to keep living in Vermont but I may have to move anyway. Many Vermonters, those who are self employed and made this state what it is, are furious at the state legislators, who spend freely. Vermonters that live month to month, frugally, grumble they do not like to pay for all the perks bureaucrats receive (and also those who work for large corporations). They realize that by moving to certain states they can lower their overhead and buy a turkey for Christmas. Me? I’m getting a ham from the Food Shelf!

Sincerely,

Peter Miller

Here are excerpts from two letters I received:

“We have given up on our dream of building a house on our land in Walden. The state legislature’s two bills concerning a carbon tax are what really scared us into that decision. I don’t see how the older population in Vermont will survive the push for more wind and solar farms and the costs associated with migrating off fossil fuels. We just wanted to live out our retirement years in peace and quiet, staying warm, enjoying nature, family and friends. Looks like we’ll be doing that in Maine.”

“I cannot ell you how much your new book (A Lifetime of Vermont People) means to me. I was moved to tears after I bought a copy in St. Johnsbury and pulled over at a rest stop and began to turn the pages. This sudden release of emotion surprised me and when I thought about why I think it was because of who and what we have lost here in the state I call home.”

Read Full Post »