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Utah GOP leaders push $100 million worth of tax cuts

Posted at 2:57 PM, Feb 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-22 19:41:39-05

SALT LAKE CITY  — A series of bills moving through the Utah State Legislature would offer $100 million in targeted tax cuts for residents.

At a news conference on Monday, House and Senate lawmakers appeared with some of the intended recipients of their tax relief bills.

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"With this tax cut, a family with three kids just like my own, our state income tax will go down by $200," said Anthony Neil, who appeared with his wife, Megan, and their children.

Senate Bill 153 would restore a part of the dependent tax exemption that was cut in President Trump's 2017 tax reform package on a federal level. That actually hurt Utah families, who are typically larger than other states.

"Many of our families and those with dependents were actually negatively impacted on their state taxes. So this is actually going to be restoring what we did several years ago," said Rep. Jefferson Moss, R-Saratoga Springs.

Senate Bill 11 would eliminate the individual state income tax on military retirement pay, while House Bill 86 would eliminate the state income tax on Social Security retirement income, benefiting seniors on a fixed income.

"I worked for over 45 years contributing to Social Security and I was depending on that money to retire," said Lou Carroll, who works part-time at the Utah State Capitol as a Senate sergeant-at-arms. "Obviously, eliminating the state tax on Social Security would be a definite benefit."

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The tax cuts are part of a push by House and Senate GOP leaders to offer some tax reform. It follows a bruising battle the legislature went through in 2019 and 2020 when they passed a massive tax reform package, only to have to walk it back when it sparked a citizen referendum with voters who were angry about a hike in the tax on food.

These proposed tax cuts are friendlier and less likely to invoke the wrath of watchdogs.

"This tax cut is part of our broader strategy as a legislature to focus on and broaden the economic success of all Utahns. Putting money back in the hands of taxpayers has a ripple effect, for sure," said House Speaker Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville.

Some lawmakers have pushed to do more, including an income tax rate cut. But asked if that was going to happen this year, Senate President J. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, told FOX 1`3: "No."

The bills are moving through the legislative session with bipartisan support.