howardnlby Howard Stephenson
Watch Rod Decker fire tough tax questions at gubernatorial candidates, then participate in a straw poll on the race for Utah’s next governor. Hear Governor Walker describe what she expects from her new Tax Reform Committee. Learn from international experts what it takes for Utah’s business climate to improve. Enjoy the fireworks as advocates debate who should pay for tourism promotion.

These issues and more will be served up all morning on April 30 at the 27th annual Utah Taxes Now Conference to be held at Little America Hotel in Salt Lake City. Attendees are eligible for 4 hours of CLE or CPE credit. To learn more and to register, go to .

Here are some of the hot topics that will be the focus of the conference:

Governor Walker Discusses Tax Reform

Last fall, Governor Olene Walker called several tax experts together and asked them to evaluate Utah’s entire tax structure and make recommendations for reform. Their report is due this summer. What is the Governor after? What can Utah households and businesses expect? Following the Governor’s remarks, your Taxpayers Association will provide input for the Governor’s Tax Reform Committee by proposing its own recommendations.

The Truth about Utah’s Business Climate

One study says Utah’s tax climate for businesses is very favorable. Another says the business tax climate in Utah is about average. Are Utah businesses paying their “fair share”? Dr. Matthew Murray, a leading international economics professor from the University of Tennessee, will lead a discussion on business taxation in Utah compared to other states and what changes need to be made to ensure Utah’s economic growth without raising taxes.

Are City Councils Giving Away the Store?

State law creates an incentive for mayors and city councils to attract retail to their city, usually through redevelopment agencies (RDAs). In 2003, households and businesses paid $72 million to RDAs, most of which was used to subsidize retail development. Is this sound policy? Is there a conflict between revenue enhancements for cities and economic development for the state?

Who should be Utah’s Next Governor?

Utah’s state and local tax burden ranks ninth highest in the U.S. What is the next Governor going to do about it? Come listen to Republican and Democratic gubernatorial candidates discuss tax and economic policy issues. Following the debate, conference and luncheon attendees will participate in a straw poll.

How Should Utah Fund Tourism Promotion?

Legislators recently debated two proposed tax hikes for tourism promotion. Should restaurants and hotels be taxed to promote tourism? Should tourism promotion be paid for through special taxes or the general fund? How much does Utah need to spend to “brand” Utah in the wake of the 2002 Winter Olympics? Is Utah spending current tourism dollars wisely? Listen to both sides of this debate as representatives of the tourism industry and the restaurant industry make their cases.

Is the Utah Legislature Punishing Taxpayers Who Stand Up?

Tax experts from the Governor’s office, Tax Commission, and the Legislature debate the implications of two bills passed by the Legislature this year. SB250 restricts the ability of individual taxpayers to file class action lawsuits for overpayment of taxes and fees. SB191 changes Utah’s oil and gas severance taxes to recoup revenues lost when taxpayers proved in court that they had been overtaxed. After the new floating rate sunsets in a year, how is the new rate going to be determined? Will it be set to guarantee a certain amount of revenue again?

The Effects of Basic Industry on Utah’s Economic Engine

Your Taxpayers Association will debut a Utah State University study that shows what effect basic industry plays in creating wealth. The study will be presented by a Utah State University economist, E. Bruce Godfrey who is a leader in his field

How will your business personal property be taxed?

Some Utah assessors have moved to abandon personal property depreciation schedules in an attempt to tax the income stream produced by personal property. Tax experts Mark Buchi, Holme Roberts & Owen; Lee Gardner, Salt Lake County Assessor; and Palmer Depaulis, Utah State Tax Commissioner, will discuss the implementation of SB 206, which requires the Tax Commission to keep current designations of personal property rather than proceeding to redefine personal property under the Crossroads Mall decision.

Come and watch the indoor fireworks as policymakers and experts debate some of the most important tax issues Utah has faced in years!