Taxpayers sound off ahead of Connecticut State Tax Panel hearing

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HARTFORD -- An hours-long public hearing in front of the State Tax Panel generated interest around Connecticut on Wednesday. The goal: to gather opinions on the state's current tax structure. Dozens showed up two hours ahead of the scheduled hearing to put their names on the list to testify.

According to a recent study by the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, 53 percent of business owners questioned feel that taxes need to be reduced to make the state more competitive.

Nearly 1 in 3 respondents said they're considering relocation, something that didn't come as a surprise to Alan Lieberman of Shipman and Goodwin.

"We impose a sales tax on dozens and dozens of services with hundreds of exemptions" said Lieberman, a tax attorney, who added that it is sometimes difficult for small businesses to navigate those exemptions without a tax adviser.

"It becomes a trap for the unwary and so by moving to another state, they can simplify their tax reporting and compliance," Lieberman said.

He said that he doesn't like bearing that news to clients but if they ask about other states, he has a duty to inform them of what he calls Connecticut's "disincentives."

"The services that they would obtain such as payroll, human resources and the like are taxable here in Connecticut whereas if they simply move across the border, they'll incur less expenses," he said.

Santo Silvestro said he won't be moving out-of-state, but the small business owner is upset with recent tax increases.

"It`s harder to keep what you make. People in business make money. I make money, but they tax you more. They call Connecticut 'The Tax You to Death' state," said Silvestro who owns a deli, auto repair shop, aviation business and limousine service in the New Canaan area.

"The state keeps raising the taxes," he said. "How about they cut some spending?"

That sentiment was echoed by a number of people FOX CT spoke with including Eugune Gulycz who was upset about sales tax.

"There should be an exemption on clothing. Like of the first $100, you shouldn't have to pay anything," Gulycz said.

Jerry Dierman said he's had enough of property taxes and once he sells his condo, he plans to leave Connecticut.

"You just learn to live with it and I haven't learned to live with it so it's time for me to go and I hope someone turns the lights out when they leave," he said. "We just can't keep going on like this. The state can't keep spending money we don't have."

Veronica O'Leary said she started thinking the same thing the other day.

"I'm very disappointed in the structure, very disappointed in what's available to the community," the 20-plus year resident of Connecticut said. "I don't think I'll be standing here next year doing this. I really don't think I'll be living here. It's very unfortunate."

O'Leary said she met with her state representative recently and she hopes the state will keep holding public hearings for others to share their opinions.

"I'm very knowledgeable about what's going on, we have had 13 families relocate out of Connecticut," she said of her community.  "I don't think enough people really come out and voice what it is that they're dissatisfied with. Maybe if they did, maybe something eventually will be done."

Members of the State Tax Panel held a meeting earlier Wednesday to listen to various presentations by experts. View those findings and read some of the letters submitted for public comment here.