Criteria for Evaluating Legislation
The Board of Directors of the Utah Taxpayers Association is responsible for the governance of the Association and for determination of Association policies. The purpose and objective of these policies are to represent taxpayers and to promote efficient, economical government and fair & equitable taxation. To accomplish this, the Association will:
- Promote a tax structure which permits a strong, heathy economy and sensible balance and rational control of government expenditures.
- Scrutinize tax programs, state and local budgets, and the proliferation of questionable government expenditures.
- Seek out the orderly elimination of government programs or agencies that no longer serve a useful purpose by cooperating with public officials through use of facts.
Shortly after its organization in 1922, the Taxpayers Association identified four Fundamentals of Taxation.
- Taxes should be certain, clearly reckoned, equitable, and not arbitrary.
- Taxes ought to be payable at a time most convenient to the majority of those who pay.
- Every tax should be so contrived as to take and keep out of the pockets of the people as little as possible.
- Taxes should be levied according to the ability of people to pay, or in proportion to the financial benefits derived from the government.
During the annual legislative session, the Taxpayers Association reviews dozens of tax-related bills. Legislative positions on specific bills and general legislative priorities are determined by the Association’s Legislative Committee which meets weekly and which is open to all interested members.
Given the diverse membership of the Taxpayers Association, it is not unusual for our membership to have varying positions of legislation. In the case of such conflicts, the Association must have a set of criteria used to evaluate legislation and to determine, if any, the position and course of action staff should take.
Consistency in positions on similar legislation is critical to helping the Association maintain integrity and credibility among legislators, members, and other business representatives. Reversal of a position previously adopted by the Association’s legislative committee should only occur if new information or changes in the legislation make it consistent, or inconsistent, with the Association’s evaluation criteria.
As a lobbying organization, the Utah Taxpayers Association is asked to support a wide range of legislative proposals by a variety of contract lobbyists and business representatives. Timing often prevents a discussion of the issue in the Association’s legislative committee. While staff should discuss the Association’s action with the chair of the legislative committee, and if necessary, members of the Executive Committee, staff may at times have to make impromptu judgements consistent with the Association’s evaluation criteria.
These criteria for evaluation of legislation should be used to evaluate and set positions on tax- and business-related legislative proposals. If the evaluation criteria are not satisfied then the Taxpayers Association should either oppose or take no position on the bill depending on the level of interest in the bill, unless otherwise directed by the Association’s legislative committee, executive committee, or board of directors.
- Does the legislation increase the overall tax burden borne by Utahns?
- Does the legislation unfairly shift taxes from one group of taxpayers to another?
- Does the legislation weaken important protections for taxpayers, i.e, Truth in Taxation?
- Does the legislation place an industry, or the State of Utah, at a competitive disadvantage?
- Does the legislation threaten tax rate uniformity and consistency locality to locality, state to state?
- Does the legislation require taxpayers and businesses to track new or increased information to comply with reporting requirements?
- Does the legislation represent an unfunded mandate to businesses which will likely increase their costs, i.e., health insurance mandates?
- Does the legislation use the increased revenues for purposes which do not benefit those who pay the tax?
- Does the legislation result in unnecessary governmental growth?
- Has the Association previously opposed similar legislative proposals?