Throughout 2021, your Taxpayers Association advocated on behalf of taxpayers across the state and found lots of successes and identified ways to help taxpayers headed into the future. Here are just a few of the things we accomplished so far this year.
Provided Tax Relief to Families, Seniors, and Retirees
Your Taxpayers Association had called for tax relief for Utahns, including meeting with members of legislative leadership and the governor, and in 2021, the Legislature acted with several targeted tax cuts.
Senate Bill 153 (Fillmore/Moss) further restored the state tax exemption for dependents that was lost in the 2017 federal tax reform bill. That loss created a state income tax hike on Utah taxpayers with dependents. SB 153 raised that exemption from $565 per dependent to $1,750. This will provide an annual tax cut of $54 million to taxpayers with dependents.
House Bill 86 (Brooks/Harper) delivered a social security tax cut to Utah’s senior citizens. The bill raised the amount of income that is exempt from tax from $35,000 for joint filers to $50,000. This delivers an $18 million state income tax cut per year to those that are receiving social security.
2 Sub Senate Bill 11 (Harper/Pierucci) eliminated state income tax on military retirement benefits in Utah. This delivered a $24 million tax cut to those receiving military retirement income.
While this is absolutely necessary relief to taxpayers, we are working towards providing relief for all Utahns through a broad based income tax rate cut in 2022.
Helped Provide Relief to Small Businesses that File and Pay the Burdensome Business Personal Property Tax
Your Taxpayers Association lobbied heavily throughout 2020 and into 2021 for relief for an additional 39,000 small businesses. Thanks to our efforts and SB 18 (sponsored by Sen. Wayne Harper), more businesses in Utah will be free from paying property tax each year on their business personal property. It raises the amount of exempt property from $15,000 to $25,000 and continues to exempt items that are under $500 and not critical to the business activity.
Since the vast majority of tax on personal property is paid by large taxpayers, raising the threshold to $25,000 delivers relief to more than 50% of businesses that currently pay the tax with a tax cut of around $2 million statewide. The bill passed the Legislature unanimously.
Advocated for Taxpayers When Local Entities Proposed Property Tax Increases
Utah’s Truth-in-Taxation (TnT) law is a shining example for the nation and has saved Utah taxpayers billions in property taxes since your Taxpayers Association got it enacted in 1985. Since its passage, Utah taxpayers have been protected against rampant and runaway property taxes resulting from government overspending while other states continue to crank their property tax burden higher and higher.
Each year, your Taxpayers Association reviews the budgets of all 41 school districts, 29 counties, and 50 largest cities to find waste and call out unnecessary property tax increases.
This year, we highlighted and questioned property tax increases and met with leaders from Moab to Payson and Bountiful, Davis County School District, and the Central Utah Water Conservancy District.
Advocated for Truth-in-Taxation in other States
In 2021, several states passed property tax relief legislation patterned after Utah’s “Truth-in -Taxation” law in order to push back against runaway property tax hikes plaguing many taxpayers throughout the country. Kansas and Nebraska both passed legislation and now several other states have reached out to the Utah Taxpayers Association to get advice on passing similar legislation. We have already received inquiries from Iowa and Montana and expect several other states to follow as Utah is continuing to be held up as model policy to follow by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
Joined Other Organizations Calling for Clarification of Federal Law Following State Tax Cuts
The Utah Taxpayers Association and 16 other state taxpayer associations sent a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on March 17 asking for guidelines to clarify provisions of the American Rescue Plan Act – the federal COVID-relief law that includes a provision restricting tax reductions by states that accept relief funds.
The language in the law is an assault on state sovereignty. Several states have sued the Treasury to enjoin the mandate. As stated by Chief Justice Roberts in NFIB v. Sebelius (2012), Congress can’t use “economic dragooning that leaves the states with no real option but to acquiesce.”
We agree with the Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal that said some in Congress, “want to take credit for their spending blowout as the pandemic recedes, even as they protect their state counterparts from economic competition from small-government states. That’s an affront to representative government and a classic distortion of the constitutional structure that cries out for judicial review.”
Fortunately, since that point in time several courts have agreed and enjoined the effort by the Biden administration from taking such unconstitutional steps.
Continued to Alert City Officials About the Pitfalls of a Proposed Nuclear Power Project Risking Taxpayer Dollars
After urging several cities to exit the proposed small modular nuclear power plant by UAMPS in 2020, the Association continues those efforts while the project continues to struggle to find subscribers and make changes to the budget and scope of the project. City ratepayers and taxpayers should not be taking on the risk of these projects. The project is now delayed more than 10 years from its original completion date and has stiff financial commitments for the cities that continue with the project.
Released Annual Reports Highlighting Utah’s Tax Structure and How it Affects Utah Families
In 2021, the Utah Taxpayers Association released a new annual report, titled “The Beehive Family – The Tax Burden of the Bob and Brooke Beehive Family”. This report examines the annual tax burden that the typical Utah family pays based on current tax policy and tax rates.
Using the five-member Beehive family as an example, the report examines the state and federal tax burden across income, property, sales, and other taxes to help illustrate the annual tax burden of a “typical” Utah family.
We also compiled our Legislative Scorecard, which details important tax legislation that affects Utahns, as well as how all 104 of Utah’s legislators voted on these key pieces that affect the tax structure.
In addition, we released our annual reports detailing the cost of government for cities, counties, and school districts. These reports detail how much you pay to these levels of government, and where your money is spent.
Finally, our Fast Tax booklet shows all types of taxes and many fees levied by the state. This booklet is your one-stop shop for finding how much revenue is collected by each of these taxes, what the rate is, and other handy information you can use to learn more about the taxes and fees you pay.
Successfully Hosted Utah’s Pre-eminent Conferences About Taxes and Fiscal Policy
Each year, hundreds attend our Legislative Outlook and Taxes Now Conferences. State and local leaders, as well as tax policy experts from across the country, join the Association and present the most valuable and up-to-date information you can find anywhere in the state. We are proud to continue to be a valuable resource for taxpayers at these conferences, and to provide the conference materials to all taxpayers following the events.
Presented and Participated in Various Conferences with Sister Organizations Across the Country
Your Utah Taxpayers Association has decades of relationships with sister organizations in states throughout the country. Each year we convene with them to study tax policies that are being proposed in our various states and exchange ideas on how to effectively advocate and promote good tax policy at the state level.