‘Complicated’ tax forms to blame for Vermont food stamp overpayments

By Yaël Ossowski | Watchdog.org

The state of Vermont has overpaid food stamp benefits to thousands of households during the past 3 years, according to the federal government. But the reason, according to the state, is a little odd.

Taxes. Or more specifically, the state’s tax code.

OUT THE WINDOW: Food stamp benefits in Vermont were overpaid due to the ‘complicated’ tax code.

Speaking to The Burlington Free Press, David Yacavone, a commissioner for the Vermont Department for Children and Familes, gave a frank answer as to why Vermont was now facing penalties.

“The most common error, Yacavone said, is miscalculating a client’s income, a complicated process that requires taking into consideration various deductions,” reported the paper.

This means that for those state workers trying to help recipients of food stamp benefits in Vermont, they’ve faced their largest foe in the Vermont tax code, riddled with exemptions, special requirements and endless deductions that make calculating actual income near to impossible.

So now the state has to repay the overpayment.

Could this mean, as Vermont Community Foundation board member John Killacky writes, that Vermont is ready for a “humane tax reform“?

In any case, the Legislature is expected to welcome small levels of tax reform when the session begins in January.

Vermonters will have to wait for changes until then.

Yaël is a national reporter for Watchdog.org. Reach him by email at yael@watchdog.org and follow him @YaelOss