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Utah Tax Reform: Lots Of Ideas But Nothing On Paper

Phillip Massey

Reforming the state tax system is a top priority for Utah lawmakers this year, but there’s no concrete plan for how they want do that yet.

On the first day of Utah’s legislative session, Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, said lawmakers are waiting to find out exactly how the federal tax reform will affect the state’s bank account.

“We don’t know where we’re going to go until we figure out what the revenue is going to be from the federal tax reform,” he told reporters.

Budget makers estimate some extra money for the state — anywhere between $20-$85 million.

The Legislature tried to tackle tax reform last year but ran out of time, but there’s momentum this year.

“It’s difficult for us to do this, there’s no question about it,” said Niederhauser. “But [last year] we didn’t have the federal reform to piggyback off of.”

Sen. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, said lawmakers may try to find some more money for education in order to undercut a ballot initiative to raise taxes for school funding.

“With great respect for those that have put forth the initiative,” he said, “but I think many of us believe that as well-meaning as that is, it’s better policy for us to deal with those issues here.”

Republican lawmakers will spend the next seven weeks looking for ways to, as they often repeat, “broaden the base and lower the rate.”

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