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We need real tax reform, not the governor’s plan PDF Print E-mail

Tax reform. Tax cuts. Those are appealing terms for most Utahns. Who wouldn’t like to pay fewer taxes? When the state legislature meets on September 19 this week in special session, tax reform and tax cut will be the main agenda. But neither term applies to what the governor proposes and the Republican majority appears to accept.

The governor’s tax reform plan is really a tax cut for less than five percent of Utahns, mainly taxpayers who make over $250,000. The rest of us will continue to pay a higher proportion of our income in taxes than the wealthy do. Not only that, but the $70 million in tax cuts that these few lucky taxpayers will enjoy is coming straight out of our public education funding, which currently holds a comfortable lead for last place in the nation on per-pupil spending. How low can we go?

The Utah Association of Certified Public Accountants has wisely opposed the governor’s plan. We agree. Let’s stop waving a white flag of welcome to wealthy outsiders in hopes of stimulating economic growth. Instead, let’s stimulate the economy with real tax reform and tax cuts for the average Utah taxpayer. If tax reform helps them, then it helps almost everyone. What kind of tax reform do we really want to see?

1. Tax reform that helps average Utahns send their children to college. In a recent survey, Utah was ranked higher than most other states in educational affordability. Yet college costs are rising and the percentage of Utahns who go to college is shrinking. We’re not serving our own citizens well when fewer of them can go on to college. We need to look at ways to use the tax system to stimulate college attendance and graduation so Utah in the future has a skilled labor force.

2. Tax reform that is more graduated. Utah has a regressive system, which makes middle- and low-income families pay a larger share of their incomes in taxes than the wealthy do. The new tax plan will shift even more of the burden of paying taxes and supporting government programs to the middle class, while at the same time collecting less revenue. That is unfair to most of us who are trying to pay our bills, educate our children, and get ahead.

3. Tax reform that protects public education. School districts should be allowed to opt out of RDAs in their area. Far too much money in Utah (one estimate says $40 million) is drawn from potential school funds to support for commercial, primarily retail, development. Utah needs commercial development, but it should not be on the back of our education system.

If I were in the state legislature I would oppose the governor’s tax plan. Instead, I would work for real tax reform and real economic growth for all Utahns, not just a few.

Last Updated on Friday, 29 September 2006 08:38
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