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Utah House Speaker floats the idea of a tax cut before the end of the year, but other taxes may get hiked

Posted at 3:32 PM, Oct 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-17 01:38:13-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- House Speaker Brad Wilson is floating the idea of an income tax cut before the end of the year as lawmakers are set to introduce an overhaul of the state's entire tax code.

Meeting with reporters on Wednesday, the Speaker suggested a special session of the Utah State Legislature is not out of the question, but he insisted it wasn't just to pass sweeping changes to the taxes.

"Personally, and I think a lot of us would like to see something done by the end of the year so we can get a tax cut in place for the citizens starting in January," he said. "Potentially even seeing their take home pay in their paychecks bump up to reflect that tax cut."

A series of recommendations on what should change in Utah's tax code could be introduced as soon as next week. Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill have argued that revenues are declining, which pay for necessary government services from roads to healthcare. A bill to overhaul the tax code that included a controversial sales tax imploded in the legislative session earlier this year. Over the summer, lawmakers spent the summer going around the state and discussing why they believed tax reform was necessary.

Speaker Wilson, R-Kaysville, said nothing was off the table.

"How do we stabilize our sales tax base? Whether it’s sales tax on food, looking at consumer services that have been replaced by products we used to buy that have been replaced by services," he told reporters.

Ideas being considered include a sales tax on some services, a "user fee" for roads, a short-term gas tax hike, and increasing the sales tax on food.

The sales tax on food is something advocates for Utah's poor very much oppose.

"We’re looking at anywhere between an average of $172-$252 in additional costs to families," said Alex Cragun of Utahns Against Hunger. "Which is a lot of money if you’re living on less than $24,000 dollars a year."

Senate Minority Leader Karen Mayne, D-West Valley City, who serves on the legislature's tax reform task force, told FOX 13 her fellow Democrats were "sensitive" to a food tax hike. She would not commit to supporting any specific ideas until she saw the overall packages.

"A tax cut, if it’s appropriate? Yes. If we’re cutting taxes just to cut that and we tax other things?" she said. "We need to look at it all and that’s why we need to look at the whole package. If you break it down, it doesn’t work."