Tax restructuring proposals get pushback at public hearing

Oct 23, 2019, 2:29 PM | Updated: 2:37 pm
tax proposals hearing...
Photo credit: Kelli Pierce

SALT LAKE CITY — Several small business owners have spoken out against a bill being drafted in the Utah legislature that would levy more sales taxes on food and gasoline, as well as most services like Uber rides or dance lessons.

At a hearing at the state capitol Tuesday night, many business owners told the Tax Restructuring and Equalization Task Force that the current bill being discussed will dramatically change how their businesses operate.

“It forces me to raise my rates,” said spa-owner Katrina Long, “[and] incur more costs in merchant fees. It adds more paperwork, accounting, and decreases profitability.”

Dr. Nathan Whiting, a veterinarian, said a tax increase would mean more homeless animals.

“Adding a tax will only increase the burden on pet owners, some to the point of abandoning their animals and increasing the population of Utah shelters,” Whiting said.

Jerry Nielson, who owns a dance studio, thinks a sales tax would put him at an unfair advantage.

“In the dance studio, we have to compete against schools that have dance programs and cheerleading and have certain tax exemptions that we don’t have in the private sector. This creates another division and gives them an unfair tax advantage,” Nielsen said.

Legislators want to address a general fund shortfall that The Governor’s Office of Management and Budget predicts will be $43 million this year. The shortfall is happening, in part, because more Utahns are shopping online.

Six plans were presented at Tuesday night’s meeting, but the Deseret News reports staff will most likely base any bill on a proposal by House Majority Leader Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton, and Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, the two co-chairs of the tax task force.  It calls for an overall tax cut of $79 million while at the same time reducing the state’s 4.95% income tax rate. It would also restore the full sales tax on food and add sales tax to the purchase of gasoline.

Other small business owners questioned the need to overhaul the tax code quickly because the state started collecting online sales taxes this year, claiming they do not know the actual shortfall number.

However, Hillyard says there will be many chances for revision before a final bill is presented for a vote.

KSL Newsradio’s Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic spoke with Utah Sen. Kathleen Riebe, D-Cottonwood Heights, about the tax reform proposals discussed at the Tuesday night meeting, and you can hear the segment below.

Contributing: Simone Seikaly


Today’s Top Stories


robert palmer sentenced...

Some Capitol rioters try to profit from their Jan. 6 crimes

Facing prison time and dire personal consequences for storming the U.S. Capitol, some Jan. 6 defendants are trying to profit from their participation in the deadly riot, using it as a platform to drum up cash, promote business endeavors and boost social media profiles.
22 hours ago
The Capitol is seen as members of the House of Representatives vote on a short-term lift of the nat...
Daniella Diaz and Aaron Pellish, CNN

Man fatally shoots self after crashing car into barricade near US Capitol Building

A man shot and killed himself after driving into a vehicle barricade near the US Capitol Building early Sunday morning, US Capitol Police said.
22 hours ago
republicans and mitt romney...
Lindsay Aerts

Some Utah lawmakers trying to get rid of clergy exeption in state’s mandatory child abuse reporting law

Utah's mandatory child abuse reporting law has an exemption that doesn't require clergy to report it. Some state lawmakers want to remove that exemption.
3 days ago
Utah Democrats Gene Davis...
Lindsay Aerts

‘So no one else gets hurt:’ Utah Democratic Party pushes for Davis suspension

Salt Lake County Democrats have already suspended Sen. Gene Davis, and members of the Utah Democratic Party want to do the same.
4 days ago
Midterm Elections...
Chris Jacobs

BYU study finds lower voter turnout among certain demographics

The study found minorities, voters under 30, and Democrats are less likely to vote while Republicans over 30 had the highest rate of voter turnout.
4 days ago
garland unseal Trump...
Tierney Sneed, CNN

Merrick Garland says FBI files motion to unseal Trump Mar-a-Lago warrant

The move comes after days of silence from the Justice Department regarding the search, as is the department's practice for ongoing investigations.
4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax restructuring proposals get pushback at public hearing