The following is a Ask the League article coming out in the February newsletter. I hope it answers your question.
Please let me know if you have an follow up questions.
It has come to our selectboard's attention that 2007 will bring a change in the way the State returns money to property taxpayers through its Homestead Property Tax Income Sensitivity Program. Are voters required to address this issue at the March 2007 town meeting?
No. The statute in question, 32 V.S.A. § 6066a(f)(1), states, "By a majority of those voting at an annual or special meeting called for that purpose, the voters of a municipality may elect to apply the amount allocated under this chapter to current-year property taxes to the taxpayers' property tax installments in order or pro rata." The inclusion of the word "may" in the phrase, "may elect to apply the amount allocated under this chapter to current-year property taxes to the taxpayers' property tax installments in order or pro rata," indicates that municipalities are not obligated to hold such a vote. Without the vote, the legislative body would decide how the amounts would be allocated.
What do "in order" and "pro rata" mean?
The Vermont Department of Taxes has provided the following example to answer this question: "Mr. A's property tax bill is $4,000, he receives $2,400 property tax adjustment, and the town has four $1,000 installment payments. The town may elect to apply the property tax adjustment to pay in full the first and second installments with the remaining $400 applied to the third installment (in order), or the town could elect to apply the property tax adjustment pro rata by crediting $600 to each installment (pro rata)."
Do you have a sample warning article for this vote?
The following article could be used:
Shall amounts allocated to current year property taxes under the State of Vermont's Homestead Property Tax Income Sensitivity Program be applied to the taxpayers' property tax installments in order or pro rata, in accordance with 32 V.S.A. § 6066a(f)(1)?
To minimize the voter confusion that this question is likely to generate, we recommend that the town report include a brief explanation of the property tax income sensitivity program and the examples of "in order" and "pro rata" provided above.