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NO. 45. AN ACT RELATING TO DETERMINATION OF FINANCIAL NEED .

(S.151)

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1. 13 V.S.A. 5236(b) is amended to read:

(b) In determining whether a person is a needy person and the extent of his or her ability to pay, the court may consider such factors as income, property owned, outstanding obligations, and the number and ages of dependents as specified in rules of the supreme court adopted pursuant to section 5204 of this title. Release on bail does not necessarily disqualify a person from being a needy person. In each case, the person, subject to the penalties for perjury, shall certify in writing or by other record such information relating to ability to pay as the supreme court prescribes. *[The person shall be required to provide to the clerk of the court or the judicial officer, at such time as either the clerk of the court or the judicial officer directs and subject to the penalties for perjury, proof of income, which may include a pay stub, a certificate from the department of social welfare that the person is receiving benefits, a copy of a recent unemployment check, a copy of the person’s income tax return for the prior year, or, if the person has no income and did not file a return in the prior year, a sworn explanation as to how the person survives without income.]*

Sec. 2. 13 V.S.A. 5236(d)-(g) are added to read:

(d) In determining whether a person is a needy person under this section and the extent of the person’s ability to pay, the clerk of court or the judicial officer, who is making that determination, may require the applicant to provide proof of income, at a time to be determined by the clerk or judicial officer.

(e) The commissioner of taxes or the commissioner’s designee, when requested by the clerk of court or the judicial officer shall furnish the requester with a nonspecific report of the taxable income solely attributable to the applicant as it relates to the federal poverty income guidelines. Such report shall only identify whether the individual’s income is at or below the federal poverty income guidelines applicable to family size or is within the following percentages of those guidelines:

101-124%

125-150%

151-175%

176-200%, or

over 200%

Information furnished to the requester shall be made available to the applicant and the court.

(f) Any financial information furnished or disclosed under subsections (d) and (e) of this section shall be confidential and available for review only by the clerk or judicial officer or the person submitting the financial information. In the event of an appeal, any identifying information shall be confidential and not made part of the public record.

(g) A person who knowingly violates subsection (f) of this section shall be fined not more than $500.00, and shall be liable in a civil action for any damages resulting from improper disclosure.

Sec. 3. EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect upon passage.

Approved: June 19, 1997