Changes still in the works even as legislative leaders plan to meet with governor

SALT LAKE CITY — GOP legislative leaders are set to sit down with Gov. Gary Herbert Thursday to start wrapping up the details of a special session on tax reform that’s expected to be called for Dec. 12, even though some substantial changes to the latest plan are still in the works.

“I think you can say it’s imminent there will be a special session,” Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, told the Deseret News Wednesday. Adams said he and House Speaker Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, plan to tell the governor there’s enough support in both the House and Senate to warrant him calling a special session.

“We’re close. We’re close to getting a sizable tax cut to Utahns in place before the end of the year,” Wilson told KSL Newsradio earlier in the day about the meeting with the governor. He and Adams both pitched the need to move quickly on tax reform on the “Dave and Dujanovic” show.

Herbert has not commented on the work of the Legislature’s Tax Restructuring and Equalization Task Force that is scheduled to meet 5 p.m. Monday. The group is considering ways to ensure more Utahns see an overall tax cut under a plan that would raise sales taxes on food, gas and some services, while lowering income tax rates and adding new breaks.

“The governor is engaging in ongoing conversations with legislative leadership and appreciates their hard work on this topic,” Herbert spokeswoman Anna Lehnardt said. “We look forward to receiving the recommendations of the task force.”

Those recommendations will now include allowing joint income tax filers with no dependents to claim an exemption, Adams said, to boost the number of Utahns who would see a tax cut under the plan. That means the size of the overall tax cut is also going up, from around $80 million to what he said would be $100 million.

Lawmakers had set aside $75 million last session for a tax cut, but Adams said there should be enough money to cover the difference without making cuts in the budget because “our economy’s grown enough to absorb that $25 million.”

Just how much revenues are growing will be announced soon by the governor, who is in the midst of readying his own proposal for the budget year that begins July 1, 2020. The updated revenue estimates are anticipated to emphasize the issue behind tax reform, lagging sales tax receipts as spending shifts from goods to services.

Income and sales taxes, the two biggest sources of revenue for the state, are now “growing at wildly different rates,” Wilson said, warning that the new revenue numbers will show that income tax collections are “growing at 10 times the rate of sales tax.”

That’s an issue because under the Utah Constitution, income taxes can only be spent on education, leaving every other state need to be paid for largely by sales taxes. Even transportation is only partially funded by the gas tax, although the tax reform …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Utah News


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Special session on tax reform ‘imminent’

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