OPINION: Don’t hold your breath on tax reform this legislative session

Jan 27, 2020, 2:10 PM | Updated: 2:19 pm
tax reform legislative session...
House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, speaks during the opening session of the legislature at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Monday, Jan. 22, 2018. It's looking like tax reform will have to wait until a future legislative session, amid conflicts between voters, the legislature and the governor's office. Photo credit: Deseret News

This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom. 

Tax reform is out and it probably won’t be coming back anytime soon.

“It was a gut punch,” said Rep. Tim Hawkes, R-Centerville. “We’ll hit the reset button and start all over again.”

Okay, but when?

What’s in the tax reform package?

S.B. 2001 has quietly made its way onto Utah’s Mount Rushmore of controversial bills — carved alongside medical marijuana, Medicaid expansion, and whatever else you’re most passionate about.

Here’s the 10th grade Cliffs Notes version of the tax reform bill that passed in December 2019 and will be repealed in January 2020.

First, I’ll start with what people thought was bad in the bill.

  1. Increasing the sales tax on unprepared foods from 1.75% to 4.85%. If you’re asking what unprepared foods are—think fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats. 
  2. Gas tax increase– roughly, a dime per gallon of gas. 
  3. Sales tax on some services—think Uber rides, but not yoga classes. I could never figure out why a business was/wasn’t taxed without looking at a very, very large list. 

Here’s the good that gets thrown out with the bad. 

  1. $160 million tax cut on your state income tax returns. The average Utah family of four could have expected to keep an extra $500 at tax time. 
  2. No tax on Social Security payments for low-income households. 
  3. Increased dependent exemption from $565 to $2,500. 

The bill was 238 pages, so these were just some of the highlights — or lowlights, depending on your point of view.

When will this come back up?

If you’re sick of tax reform talk, don’t worry. It will be a hot minute before legislators try to tackle this gorilla again.

Here’s why:

If tax reform is in Utah’s future, it won’t happen until a new governor is elected in November 2020.

None of the current candidates liked the bill.

“Since all these candidates for governor just completely opposed what we did,” said Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, “it will be nice to dump it in their lap and let them figure it out.”

Once elected, the new governor would need to make it a top priority, legislators would need to write a bill, take it on road to garner support, then pass it.

Doing some quick timeline calculations and we’re looking at two years away — at the earliest.

“We’re probably two years away from this being a serious problem,” said House Speaker Brad Wilson.

Good. At least that matches with the timeline.

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.

Listen on Google Play Music

Today’s Top Stories

Dave & Dujanovic

Utah disaster funding earthquake study...
Simone Seikaly

What Utah can expect from federal funding after a disaster like Ian

What can those in Utah expect from federal disaster funding when a natural disaster on par with Hurricane Ian hits home?
1 day ago
u of u student arrested...
Waverly Golden

Other paths to consider when thinking about attending college

Following the student loan forgiveness announcement, college is on everyone's mind. Dave Noriega takes an in-depth look at the alternatives.
5 days ago
Utah Democrats Gene Davis...
Simone Seikaly

Attorney for Sen. Gene Davis says Davis won’t resign from the Utah Senate

The Salt Lake County Democratic Party asked for Davis to resign immediately because of allegations of sexual harassment made against him.
8 days ago
ovarian cancer...
Simone Seikaly

A new chance for a fighting chance against ovarian cancer

What may be most alarming about ovarian cancer is that the symptoms are there, but they are quiet and can be mistaken for something else.
9 days ago
Curt Gresseth

Former U.S. Attorney for Utah talks about what FBI can take off your cellphone

A legal expert joined Dave and Dujanovic to discuss how the FBI can obtain evidence of a crime from a cellphone.
13 days ago
centerville arson fire...
Curt Gresseth

What’s behind random acts of violence in Utah?

What's behind a recent spate of random violence in Uta?. A sleeping couple at home in West Valley City is stabbed by an intruder. A stranger enters a home with three elderly people in Centerville and burns it down. Greg Skordas, KSL legal analyst breaks down what he thinks is motivating young people to commit random acts of violence.
14 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
large group of friends tohether in a park having fun...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

What differentiates BYU’s MBA program from other MBA programs

Commitment to service is at the heart of BYU’s MBA program, which makes it stand out among other MBA programs across the country.
a worker with a drill in an orange helmet installs a door in the house...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

Home improvement tip: Increase the value of your home by weatherproofing doors

Make sure your home is comfortable before the winter! Seasonal maintenance keeps your home up to date. Read our tips on weatherproofing doors.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
A paper reading IRS, internal revenue service is pictured...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
OPINION: Don’t hold your breath on tax reform this legislative session