For the last couple days I have been attempting to understand HB 55 — Education Funding Amendments sponsored by Representative Briscoe. As I was studying the bill, I realized that I could not understand anything. I reread. There was no improvement. I tried again and again until I finally gave up. I started feeling dumb and clueless. The language of the bill was so complicated.
As I forced myself to get back to the bill, I decided to let more people share their perspective on HB55. I was astounded by the fact that even PhD-holders were confused by the technicalities of the bill. That was a relief! That meant I was not dumb. I was just lacking in a particular field of expertise. Luckily, I was able to find help from some people with backgrounds in finance. Here’s what I’ve figured out:
We know that the State of Utah generates its funds from income tax and property taxes. All the Utah income tax money goes to education funding. HB55 will make some changes to the current tax law. But even if this bill gets passed, the effects might not be seen for many years.
I. The first change is that the rate that a person pays of their federal income tax would change from a percentage to the fixed amount. As of now, at the federal level, a person can claim up to a $3800 exemption on their income tax, whereas on the state level, he/she can get up to 75% off the federal level.
Thus, the plan of this bill is to set the rate from the percentage, i.e. 75%, to a fixed amount, i.e. $2,850. By setting the rate to a fixed amount, there are no fears of the amount being less than $2,850.
And with the change in the economy, the difference is likely to grow. Given the fact the federal exemption is not static, the amount of $3,800 is likely to grow every year with inflation. Hypothetically speaking, suppose the economy improves in 2013 and an individual could claim up to a $4,000 exemption. With the rate being fixed to $2,850, the margin could get slightly bigger. As the margin gets bigger, the funding is likely to increase.
Fixed amount=$2,850 vs. Percentage=75%
$2,850/$4,000=71.25% 75% of $4000= $3,000
100%-71.25%=28.75% 100%-75%= 25%
As we know, 28.75%> 25%
As you can see, this configuration would bring slightly more money to education funding. Although the difference is not huge, it is significant to change funding issues over time.
II. As the money for education is dependent upon the property value, the changes in the value of the property can change the amount for the funding. This bill is proposing to put a floor on the tax rate so there will be no fluctuation in obtaining revenues.
For example, suppose I own property that is worth $150,000, but because of the economic downturn it is now worth $100,000. Let’s assume that I am taxed 1% for my property value.
Good Economy Bad Economy
1% of $150,000 1% of $100,000
Tax= $1,500 Tax=$1,000
Thus, as the property value goes down, the revenue decreases as well. So, my understanding is that by putting a floor on the tax rate, the revenue will stay at necessary levels.
To conclude, I thought this was a creative bill. I am looking forward to its debate on the committee. HB55 was introduced in the House Rules Committee on January 28th, 2013. It was sent to committee on the 29th of January. Interestingly, it has not been heard yet. Should the supporters of this bill be worried?