Sanders: Vt. residents see lower federal taxes

By:  Chris Garofolo
Brattleboro Reformer

BRATTLEBORO -- While Americans hurry to file their income taxes and tea party activists rally against government spending, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders said federal taxes are down for a majority of middle-class Vermonters.

The Vermont independent said despite the political rhetoric from the conservative tea party movement, 99 percent of Vermont working families and individuals received an average federal tax cut of more than $1,100 for 2009. Congress has cut individual federal income taxes by roughly $173 billion since President Barack Obama took office, he said.

"This tax relief is welcome news for Vermonters who continue to suffer through the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression," he added.

According to the senator, some 300,000 Vermont households and nearly 60,000 small businesses received tax cuts through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. However, the federal stimulus spending during the Obama administration has sparked a backlash of conservative activism the last few months.

Tea party activists mobilized throughout northern New England to coincide with the deadline for filing income tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service.

In Vermont, roughly 60 protesters rallied at the Statehouse, pushing for lower taxes and a downsizing in state and federal government.

Several hundred people gathered in Concord, N.H., around noon deriding federal officials and Gov. John Lynch. Mainers took
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the party’s message to the northern portion of the state before organizing larger events in Augusta and Portland in the afternoon.

But Sanders said Congress should focus on making the federal tax code more equitable for the majority of Americans.

"Congress has a lot of work to do to create a fairer tax system. This tax day, we must resolve to make the tax code more progressive, simpler and fairer to the American people," he said. "With the top 1 percent now earning more income than the bottom 50 percent and the gap between the very rich and everyone else growing wider, we have to make sure that the wealthiest in our society and the largest and most profitable corporations in America pay their fair share in taxes."

The senator blasted Exxon-Mobil, the most profitable company in recent history, for setting up tax shelters in the Caribbean to avoid paying billions of dollars in taxes. "As gas prices continue to climb, making it harder for Vermonters to afford to commute to work, Exxon-Mobil shouldn’t be allowed to skirt its tax bill by setting up bogus tax shelters in the Caribbean."