FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 18, 2019
Salt Lake City, UT – Today, the Tax Restructuring and Equalization Task Force released its first draft of a new tax reform proposal. The tax proposal includes restoration of the full sales tax on food, lowers the income tax rate, and proposes eliminating the tax earmark for education, among other things.
Lauren Simpson, policy director for Alliance for a Better Utah, issued the following statement:
“What we tax and what we exempt is ultimately a reflection of what we value. The Legislature is proposing to continue granting sales tax exemptions for some well-connected industries while nickel and diming low-income Utahns on basic necessities of life, like buying groceries and using a laundromat. A sound tax reform policy would fix Utah’s long-term revenue problems while benefiting those already struggling to get by.
“Everything that advocates for schools and low-income Utahns have been advising against is now being included in this proposal. Our state is already lowest in the nation for per pupil funding for education–eliminating the tax earmark for education could likely result in less money for schools. Low-income Utahns need the extra money to feed their families at the time they purchase food, not a tax credit that comes sometime next year. In fact, the task force’s own analysis acknowledged that increasing the sales tax on food is a regressive policy that will benefit those on the top of the economic ladder.
“Tax reform is a huge task–one that we admire the Legislature for taking on–but pushing this through without an adequately robust public debate is indicative of a poor process. Unfortunately, we have seen an inadequate public process since day one, with insufficient education and outreach to the state and no public comment allowed at any of the meetings that followed the task force’s town halls. The political interests of lawmakers who want to avoid tax reform in an election year should not outweigh the public’s interest in being able to scrutinize this major proposal during a general legislative session.”
Alliance for a Better Utah is a nonprofit that holds politicians accountable and advocates for progressive policies that make Utah an even better place. The organization improves the lives of all Utahns through advocacy, transparency, and accountability in Utah politics, policy, and government. More information at www.betterutah.org.