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Days away from potential special session, public weighs in on Utah tax reform one last time

Posted at 9:43 PM, Dec 09, 2019

SALT LAKE CITY — The general public had its final opportunity to weigh in on the future of Utah's tax reform Monday night.

"We face some very serious issues, and unless we choose to address them then legislature is basically going to be forced to face them," said Sen. Lyle Hillyard of the Task Restructuring and Equalization Task Force. "Because of the revenues that we don't have that we thought we were going to have and the very little revenue coming in in the general fund area."

The current tax bill shows a predicted increase in the number of people seeing a tax decrease — from 73 to 84 percent of Utahns. The bill would see a $160 million overall tax cut by decreasing the state's income tax rate while offsetting the cut with an increased grocery tax and by taxing certain services.

One of those services includes peer-to-peer riding sharing such as Uber or Lyft.

"We're just doing community service," said Victor Morales, who uses Lyft as a primary source of income. "We're making an earning but it's also community service for people that shouldn't be driving get them off the road, and we're also helping people that are low income to get  from point A to point B and somewhere in between sometimes."

Teachers and educators are still uncertain about the funding they'll receive and where it would come from.

"This bill represents $650 million cut from public education, cut from the public education funding account," said Utah Education Association President Heidi Matthews. "Without those funds, it's difficult to see how any of the plans that are out there can be addressed."

In support of the bill, the Utah Taxpayers Association said in a statement, "The refinement that has taken place over the last nine months has produced legislation that will deliver a significant tax cut to taxpayers and ensure that Utah further maintains its position as the best state in the nation to live and do business in."

The task force later voted to recommend the proposal. A special session is expected to take place on Thursday.