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Utah lawmakers float tax reform ideas at conference

May 22, 2019

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Reforming Utah’s tax system could include ending the income tax, broadening the tax base or other options, state lawmakers said.

Legislators and state officials floated reform ideas Tuesday during a panel at the Utah Taxes Now Conference, the Deseret News reported .

Legislators aim to consider “anything and everything” to improve the system, including getting rid of the state income tax, Republican Senate Majority Whip Dan Hemmert told the Salt Lake City audience.

“I think we should be looking at big, bold ideas that make our tax system better irrespective of where the money’s coming from,” Hemmert said.

The state Legislature earlier this year formed a task force of lawmakers and experts to take up tax reform. It has not yet met.

Among the issues the task force will consider is a budget imbalance caused by income tax revenue outpacing sales tax revenue, Republican state Rep. Robert Spendlove said. The Utah Constitution directs income tax revenue only to education.

To fix the imbalance, the Utah Constitution could be amended to allow the revenue to be spent in other areas or broaden the tax base by adding sales taxes to service costs or gasoline sales, Spendlove said.

The state also could raise tax rates or cut back on spending, Spendlove said.

“I don’t think we have a revenue problem — I think we have a problem of expectations of what the government is supposed to do,” Spendlove said. “We perceive that the public is demanding or expecting us to be constantly expanding government services.”

Republican House Speaker Brad Wilson said the task force plans to “start from scratch” in working toward reform.

Legislative leaders and Republican Gov. Gary Herbert previously said they expected tax reform to be taken up at a special legislative session later this year. But the legislative leaders backed away from that idea earlier this month, saying reform could take more time.


Information from: Deseret News, http://www.deseretnews.com

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