The Utah Legislature’s special tax reform task force has been named and will start work soon.
Here are the lawmakers and Gov. Gary Herbert’s picks to take up the difficult job of trying to figure out how to bring the state’s tax policy into the 21stCentury.
Appointed by Senate President Stuart Adams:
Senator Lyle Hillyard, Co-Chair
Senator Curt Bramble
Senator Kirk Cullimore
Senator Lincoln Fillmore
Senator Karen Mayne
Appointed by House Speaker Brad Wilson:
Representative Francis Gibson, Co-Chair
Representative Joel Briscoe
Representative Tim Quinn
Representative Mike Schultz
Representative Robert Spendlove
As UtahPolicy.com readers may recall, the 2019 Legislature set itself what turned out to be the undoable task of expanding the state sales tax base in the 45-day general session that ended in early March.
When they pulled the plug on HB441 – the huge tax reform bill – GOP leaders and Herbert said a special task force would take up sales tax reform in April.
That date has been pushed back to early May.
And a promised summer special session to act on the task force recommendations is now planned for October or November.
But if some kind of consensus can’t be found by the task force, then the job will fall to the 2020 Legislature, which convenes in late January.
The task force will hold several public meetings throughout Utah, seeking citizen and business input.
And the task force will look beyond just expanding the sales tax base to include any number of services – from hair cuts to massages, from attorneys’ fees to plastic surgery.
The task force members will also look at ways of pushing some income tax money into the general fund – which could include a constitutional amendment.
Utah is the only state that dedicates both personal and corporate income tax monies to only K-12 public schools and universities.
That restricts the state’s General Fund, which is mainly made up from sales tax.
This is the last budget year that General Fund monies will subsidize university budgets, lawmakers say.
That means if something isn’t done to increase sales tax revenue and/or put some income tax into the General Fund, then non-education state programs will suffer.