By Senator Lyle Hillyard
District 25: Cache and Rich Counties
Many commissions make a significant impact working to develop public policy in our state. The Tax Review Commission is a good example
In 1983, Mark Buchi encouraged Governor Matheson to create the Tax Review Commission (Mark was then working for the State Tax Commission and served as Chair of the Recodification Commission). This new commission was charged to begin task of updating the Utah Tax Code. The tax code at that time was out-dated and many provisions were unclear or contradictory. One sentence, for example, was 243 words long.
Rod Brady, past President of Weber State University and then CEO of Bonneville Broadcasting, chaired the Commission. Vice Chair was Jim Lee, a prominent tax attorney. Membership included practitioners, business leaders, and academic leaders. Four legislators served on the 14-member board (two from each house, one from each political party). Mark Buchi and I have served on the commission since its inception, for the past 22 years. Former senators who have served include George Mantes, Ron Allen and now Brent Goodfellow. House members on the commission include current Senate President John Valentine (when he served in the House), Frank Knowlton, Judy Buffmire with Wayne Harper and Roz McGee currently serving.
The format used by the commission has become a model for revising complex and controversial sections of the code. In the past, when groups have addressed controversial areas, they have become bogged down and nothing important has been concluded.
As a commission, we have adhered to a three-step process. First, we went through the code and updated or deleted sections that were clearly wrong. Second, we went through again and addressed areas that needed change but could be resolved without major opposition. At this point, we also redrafted the format of the code so that sections and cross references could more easily be found. We then formed subcommittees comprised of professionals to review each section and give recommendations.
We could never have afforded all the time these professionals volunteered to the state and this cause. As a result, the commission can now focus attention on the more controversial areas and make recommendations to the legislature. We also respond to specific requests.
The commission is currently drafting code changes governing the sales and use tax exemption for isolated and occasional sales. We are considering situations such as the following:
We all know that JC Penney collects sales tax on items they sell. However, what if they are remodeling and sell a cash register, an item that is not part of their inventory and not regularly sold as a part of their business, to an employee? What if someone organizes a garage sale every Saturday?
We have asked a group of professionals to redraft the law for income taxation for trusts and estates. There is little statutory law in this area and most practitioners adapt the normal income tax rules in these and other similar situations.
The Tax Review Commission usually meets once a month on the second Friday at 1:00 pm in room W125 at the Capitol. The next meeting, however, is tomorrow
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Utah State Capitol’s West Building
You may want to follow their agenda
on the legislative website and possibly even attend some of their meetings.
We would love to hear your input.