The legislative session is about to get underway, and a big part of the discussion will be how to best spend your tax dollars.
At the annual Legislative Outlook Conference hosted by the Utah Taxpayers Association lawmakers, regulators, watchdog groups and more gathered to talk taxes.
“We want to inform taxpayers about what’s happening in the state. How their money is being spent, what proposals are being put forward. On what might change how that money is spent, or how much more might be taken or how much more might return to their bank accounts eventually,” said Utah Taxpayers Association Vice President, Billy Hesterman.
Like most years education funding is at the top of the list, but unlike most years a possible ballot initiative looms to raise income taxes by $750,000,000.
State Senator, Howard Stephenson believes it’s a tough sale.
“If it goes to the ballot I believe it will fail, because voters simply won’t support an 18% increase in their taxes,” said Stevenson, (R) Draper.
That’s why he’s working with those behind the effort to come up with a legislative fix.
“It should not include income tax. Income tax is the biggest deterrent to the location of high paying jobs in our state,” said Stephenson.
He says an alternative could tap into property taxes or funding for higher education.
“The legislature can propose something that will satisfy the supporters of the initiative and still require the accountability that is needed for reform,” said Stephenson.
Another big battle will center around internet sales tax.
Following the deal with Amazon the state is working with other retailers to collect at the time of purchase.
“The discussions about the internet sales tax is really a compliance discussion about how do we make sure that people who are already obligated to pay a sales tax, are not confused, mislead,” said Speaker of the House, Greg Hughes, (R) Draper.
But the idea is drawing criticism.
Evelyn Everton, with Americans for Prosperity says her group will put up a fight.
“Other states have passed these laws who are now in litigation and fast tracked to the Supreme Court, so we’re asking legislators to just lets hold off. Lets let other states, see what happens with those and the Supreme Court,” said Everton.
Other proposals this year include a carbon tax, equal funding to all Utah students and increased oversight to special district tax increases.
The first day of session is Monday, January 23, 2017.