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Lawmakers say tax bills passed this session give $100 million in relief to Utahns
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Lawmakers report tax bills passed this session give $100 million in relief to Utahns

(Utah Senate President Stuart Adams, at podium, touting the benefits of three tax relief bills during a press conference Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. Credit: Paul Nelson)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah- A huge tax break for families, seniors and retired military personnel. Lawmakers said several tax bills have passed which will put $100 million back into the pockets of people who need it. 

Lawmakers report Utah saw massive revenue challenges in 2020, just like every other state. However, Senate President Stuart Adams said Utah is in a better position to recover. 

He said, “We’re seeing our colleagues in Hawaii talking about furloughing teachers. We’re seeing the challenges that they’re having in New York and California with budget deficits.”

Adams believes many people in the state are still struggling financially, and they think three specific tax bills could target relief where it’s needed most. 

The first bill highlighted by lawmakers during Monday’s press conference is SB 153, which repairs a lot of the damage done by federal tax reform in 2017. Back then, the reform lessened the amount of money families would get by deducting their children on their tax returns. In 2018, the state legislature restored some of that deduction, and SB 153 would go further to repair the damage.

Also, there’s SB 11, a bill that eliminates taxes on military retirement benefits. Supports of the bill, like Mario Reeve, said servicemen and women join the military for many different reasons, but none of them expect to get rich. 

“Until this year, Utah was one of only a few states to fully tax military retirement income,” Reeve said

Third, there’s HB 86, which gets rid of taxes on social security income. One supporter, Lou Carroll has been a widower for seven years. Without his wife’s income, Carroll reported he depends heavily on what he gets from social security. He said people on fixed incomes need all the help they can get.

“You go to a grocery store, they don’t care that you’ve got a fixed income. You go buy gasoline, they don’t care if you’ve got a fixed income,” Carroll said.

House Speaker Brad Wilson believes the state has to provide essential services, but their goal is to collect as little tax revenue as they can. He believes that giving the money back to people who would spend it is one of the best ways to ensure the economy won’t stagnate. 

Was there any discussion about lowering the tax rate?

“There absolutely was, but for a couple of reasons, we ended up where we are today.  We would love to do a rate cut, at one point.  We just did one a few years ago,” Wilson said.

 

Other Reading:

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Utah special session tackles COVID-19, taxes, education, and elections

Money Making Sense: Why you may need a CPA to do your taxes