The Utah State Legislature is doing a ‘deep dive’ on taxes and that will affect what you pay

Posted at 5:56 PM, Sep 22, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah State Legislature is taking a hard look at the taxes you pay.

Following a call from Governor Gary Herbert earlier this year, lawmakers have been meeting and reviewing all types of taxes from sales and food to income and property. On Friday, a working group met to discuss the state sales tax.

"The sales tax was originally done in the 1930s," said John Valentine, the chairman of the Utah State Tax Commission. "It was based on tangible personal property sales. Today, a majority of our transactions are not tangible personal property. They're services, they're online purchases."

Political leaders have raised concerns the state is not getting the tax revenues it should, which fund government services people rely on. Valentine said the Utah State Tax Commission has been pushing online retailers to begin collecting sales tax for Internet-based purchases.

Amazon began collecting Utah sales tax. Airbnb is now collecting a hotel tax, Valentine told FOX 13.

"We have a number of others we have been collecting tax on a voluntary basis," he said. "They come forward and say, 'Don't chase our customers, we'll pay the tax.' We say, 'OK, we'll give you amnesty but from this day forward, you collect the tax.'"

Friday's working group will make recommendations to the Utah State Legislature, which is expected to run bills reworking the tax code. Similar groups are meeting to discuss property and income taxes.

When the Utah State Legislature meets in January, the food tax is expected to be a hot topic. Voters may also decide whether to hike income and sales taxes to pay for education via the "Our Schools Now" initiative.

But lawmakers have also said they want to review exemptions the state hands out.

"There's about 100 exemptions and some are easily justified on economic grounds or poverty-based grounds," said Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan. "But some got put in there because the right people were in the right place to do it. So the question is whether we have the political will to do that."

A tax hike may not be in the cards next year. It's an election year, Sen. Hillyard said, and some lawmakers up for re-election may not be up for it.