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Thursday, December 01, 2005


Some kids prefer their presents tied into packages, neatly set under the tree weeks before Christmas. Others don’t care how they are wrapped as long as the goods are delivered by Christmas morning. (Others - the best of us - just appreciate their fellow man and the spirit of the season.)

A Salt Lake Tribune editorial compared the Tax Reform Task Force to Bad Santas, and accused the group of punting reform without completing its work.

Let’s insert some friendly adult supervision into that discussion.

The Tax Reform Task Force and Interim Revenue & Taxation Committee have produced over 30 pieces of legislation centered on tax reform. These include a complete restructuring of RDA, a task that has eluded legislators since the mid 1980s. They have also proposed revisions in sales tax, insurance premium taxes, property taxes, income taxes, and myriad other tax-related issues.

The Brain Trust of Governors Walker and Huntsman (Gary Cornia, Ray Nelson, and Keith Prescott), legislators on each side of the isle from both chambers, and representatives from the governors office have spent literally thousands of hours analyzing, debating, and searching for the best possible tax system for Utah.

Every single person involved would like to have had an agreement by this time. As is often the case with passionate, intelligent, strong-willed individuals - they disagreed.

That’s appropriate.

That’s democracy.

One of the more difficult issues has been how to remove the sales tax on food.
It is one thing to say with the prophet Amos, “Let justice roll down like mighty waters,” and quite another to work out the irrigation system. Clearly there is more certainty in the recognition of wrongs than there is in the prescription for their cure.

- William Sloane Coffin
The evening previous to the “Bad Santa" editorial saw a winter storm of phone calls between members of the House and Senate, the Tax Commission, the League of Cities and towns, the Utah Taxpayers Association and others. They worked from 3:00 p.m. until after midnight developing what might be a breakthrough in finding a way to remove the sales tax from food.

This proposal removes the food tax without increasing sales, property, or income taxes. It is not a tax shift. It will not disrupt the revenue streams of our cities and towns, and will not cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars in tax cuts.

Bad Santas? Not doing their work? Give us a break.

The Trib’s editorial board should know enough about life to understand many gifts are not tied into neat little packages - especially policy equations that are as sweeping as they are complicated. On tax reform, however, Utah is miles and miles ahead of where we were a few months ago.
And miles to go before we sleep,
And miles to go before we sleep.

- Robert Frost (more or less)


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