The Utah Taxpayers Association successfully held its annual Taxes Now Conference in May, and were delighted to have so many participants joining both in-person and online for the second year in a row.

We heard from state and national tax policy experts, as well as Utah’s newest Congressman, Representative Blake Moore, representing the 1st Congressional district. Attendees found the presentations valuable and learned a lot about Utah’s current fiscal outlook, how federal relief dollars will be spent, and what the economy and tax policy may look like into the future.

Utah State Tax Commission Chair John Valentine presented what Utah companies can expect to be taxable for those who took PPP loans from the federal government. There have been some questions as to how Utah would handle taxation of these loans, but Commissioner Valentine set the record straight so taxpayers know what to expect.  

Senate President Stuart Adams addressed the work the Legislature is expected to do during the May Special Session, allocating $1.7 billion of federal relief money. President Adams said his guiding principles for spending federal stimulus are 1) it must have a generational impact, 2) a statewide benefit to citizens, and 3) have sizable benefits without future liability. He detailed specific categories in his presentation, which you can take a look at.

House Speaker Brad Wilson spoke about the possibility of future federal dollars that could be slated for infrastructure projects and/or entitlement programs. Speaker Wilson laid out the House’s expectations of how new federal money will be spent, asking attendees to question what may be ahead and to really look at investing in the future.

Utah State Auditor John Dougall showed attendees his office’s new project, which revolutionizes how public education dollars are tracked. Project KIDS makes sense of education spending by categorizing all LEA expense transactions into unique spending categories, such as AP coursework or English language learning. The funds in these approximately 200 spending categories are then distributed across the students who participate in the related programs or classes.

On a national level, Tax Foundation Vice President Jared Walczak broke down a state-by-state comparison of important tax policies, including the forgiveness of PPP loans, unemployment benefits, and GILTI. One of the most discussed issues discussed over the past few months, particularly in Utah, is whether states that receive federal relief dollars can cut taxes. Mr. Walczak examined this in detail during his presentation.

Utah routinely does “stress testing” of its budget. Andrea Wilko and Maddy Orrit from the Office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst reviewed how Utah’s budget and five-year budget reserves look, as well as the volatility of the state’s general and education funds. This presentation is full of great data on what Utah’s budget might look like in the future.

These are just a few of the presentations, raw economic and tax data, and possible policy decisions that attendees were given the opportunity to learn about. To view the entire Conference for yourself and to review the presentation materials, click here.