SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – We’re less than 24 hours away from Utah’s special session to pass a sweeping overhaul of the state’s tax code, and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say they’re still not on board.
Representative Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, told ABC4 News that although there are some imbalances in the budget, tackling tax reform in a special session isn’t feasible.
“I think the timing on it is unnecessary to get it done before the end of the year. I think it would be better served by getting more input, getting more information from the public, taking out refining some of the rough edges.”
Senate President Stuart Adams said passing the tax overhaul before year’s end will lead to Utahns seeing less money taken from their paychecks starting in January.
“One of the reasons why we’re doing this before the session starts is we want to replace those dependent exemptions. We want to do it January 1,” the Republican said Wednesday night.
“If we pass this in the special session, or in the general session in January or February, we could make it retroactive to January 1 of 2020. There’s nothing that prohibits us from doing that,” said King.
On Monday the Tax Reform Task Force approved a proposal that reportedly includes:
- Reducing the individual and corporate income tax rate from 4.95% to 4.66%
- A $160 million income tax cut for individual taxpayers
- A sales tax on groceries, coupled with a refundable tax credit for low-income Utahns
- Cuts to the income tax, which is the constitutionally guaranteed revenue source for public education
- Repealing the motor fuels tax exemption for retailers, among other things
“That’s one of the things that gives me the most heartburn about this proposal,” Representative King said, in response to the food tax proposal. “I think the Democrats in the House and the Senate if you identified one thing that gave them the most difficulty in terms of supporting it would be this increase of the sales tax on food.”
King also doesn’t agree with the “increase in sales and fuel taxes,” the idea of “taking money out of our education fund,” and how the plan “allocates sales taxes on services and goods.”
“It actually gives us more stability in our tax system and I think that’s really really important,” Adams said. “I think it gives us the structural balance that we need to be able to function and fund the needs that I think my constituents want.”
Despite criticism from Utahns, dozens of civil organizations and all of Utah’s gubernatorial candidates, who believe passing the bill in Thursday’s special session would be premature, Senate President Adams believes there are enough votes for the bill to pass.
“We’ve spent seven months working on this bill. that’s a lot longer than a 45-day legislative session. We’ve had 17 public hearings. That’s a lot of public hearings.”
“This is such a complex and important issue, and it has so many unintended and unforeseen side effects. I think we would be better off by gathering more information,” King said.
The special session is slated to begin at 5:00 p.m. Thursday at the Utah State Capitol.
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