Under the shadow of the holidays, your Utah state legislators met in a special session to make sweeping changes to the Utah tax code. This massive overhaul was mostly touted in the news as “the largest tax cut in Utah history”. Because of this summary, most Utahns merely shrugged off the topic thinking, no big deal.

It is worth noting that the Tax Restructuring Task Force held several meetings across the state during this past year for public input. The majority of the public feedback was negative to these sweeping changes, but, to no avail. It is also worth noting that all of the Washington and Iron County state legislators voted in favor of this tax reform with Travis Seegmiller absent or abstaining. Voting in favor were: Ipson and Vickers from the Senate; Last, Snow, Brooks and Shipp from the House.

A recent political term of, “elections matter” may be tweaked to the saying that, “legislative votes matter”. What say you Utah? Will you hold your politicians accountable in future elections?

A summary of this tax reform is listed below and is taken from the “Office Of Legislative Research And General Counsel” report and the ”Tax Restructuring Revisions Referendum”.

The Tax Cut Variables:

  • The largest income tax cut in Utah history went from 4.95% to 4.66%. That’s about ¼ of one percent, or a 5.8% decrease. The median annual household income in Utah is $68K/yr. A family of 4 would save $250/yr.
  • There was an increase made to dependent exemptions, a non-refundable tax credit for Social Security Income, a state earned income tax credit and a grocery tax credit for low-income residents. This bill eliminates verbiage that requires the amount of these tax credits be transferred to the education fund from the general fund.

The Tax Increases:

  • Sales Tax on food goes up from 1.75% to 4.85%. That is an additional 3.1% which equates to a 177% increase. At $200 a week for groceries that is an increase of tax equal to $298/yr.

Below are some of the items not currently being charged a sales tax that will be:

  • A near 5% sales tax on gasoline. That’s over 15 cents per gallon. This is in addition to the already established fuel taxes. This is huge!
  • Admissions to college athletic events
  • Car Washes – unless the only form of payment is cash or coin.
  • Newspapers or newspaper subscriptions
  • A $0.10 per gallon excise tax for diesel fuel
  • Installation of new personal property, i.e. washer and dryer, computer, etc.
  • Pet boarding, pet grooming and pet daycare services
  • Motor vehicle towing services
  • Personal transportation, i.e. uber, taxi fees.
  • Parking lots and garages. This includes automobile storage
  • Identity theft protection services
  • Streaming media. A tax on videos, music, games and books that you pay for.
  • Shipping and Handling. Tax exists on mail-orders, this is an additional tax on S&H
  • Electronic Security monitoring. (Your home or business monitoring services)

Perhaps this is a more balanced taxation. I would dare to venture that it’s not. Educated yourself and then decide. If you disagree with this sweeping tax reform take action and sign the tax referendum to place this tax restructuring in the hands of the voters. Time is short for this effort with a deadline of January 20th. Find out more at utah2019tax.com.

Clint Malnar is a resident of St. George.

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