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Utah’s House Speaker pushes income tax cut to offset sales tax hikes in reform bill

Posted at 2:05 PM, Nov 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-01 16:05:21-04

SALT LAKE CITY — House Speaker Brad Wilson is pushing for an income tax cut that would offset any tax hikes on food or services as part of an overhaul of Utah’s tax code.

“An average Utah family with two children in the median range of $60,000-70,000 a year would see a tax cut in the $400 to $450 dollar range,” Speaker Wilson said in an interview with FOX 13. “All in, paying maybe a little bit more sales tax, but lower income tax, they would be paying less to the state of Utah.”

The income tax cut is part of a broad tax reform bill the legislature will unveil next week. It would include a tax on some services ranging from yoga classes and ride shares to tour guides, and a controversial provision to raise the food tax.

“Change is always a little disruptive and you have folks that have concerns about it,” the House Speaker said. “What we’re trying to strive for is two things: have a tax structure and system in this state so that as we continue to grow, we can invest in things we need for a great quality of life and the infrastructure we need.”

Speaker Wilson said the tax on services primarily deals with things that have displaced products people no longer buy. The food tax is not a tax anyone likes, but he said the legislature is offering tax credits to help those who are on the lower-income bracket.

The legislature could take it up in a special session in December, if the bill clears public hearings set for November 7 and 21. A previous effort by the legislature to overhaul the tax cut imploded earlier this year in the face of public protests over the sales tax on services.

Lawmakers argue the tax code needs to be overhauled to pay for essential government services like roads and schools in the face of declining revenues. At the last public hearing, dozens lined up to complain about the sales tax on services and the food tax.

Speaker Wilson said he also supports an idea to have voters decide whether to remove the earmark on the income tax to pay for education. It would require a change to Utah’s constitution.

“We’d like to have a special session if we can by the end of the year so we can get a tax cut in place for citizens going into January,” he said.