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Monday, February 27, 2006

Voice of the People

In caucus today, the Senate Majority proposed the following:

We will go forward with plans to amend HB 109 to reduce the sales tax on food by 2 percent, as per last week's agreement.

We would also like to let the citizens of Utah weigh in on the issue, through an advisory vote in November, and will prepare an amendment to that effect.

The decision to keep the sales tax on food – or jettison it in favor of increased property tax and/or increased service taxes – will fundamentally impact Utah’s revenue system for generations to come.

Why not let voters grapple with the same issues legislators have confronted - and register their opinion?


Anonymous Rod Schiffman said...

If the purpose of removing the tax on food is to help Utah be a little more progressive in its tax structure, then removing the tax on food and shifting it to things like property tax makes a lot of sense. The creation of a small number of exemptions for those on fixed incomes, or disabled, based on income, can help fix some of the inequities that are left. Something similar to the way South Dakota does this would make sense.
There are obviously issues since we would be shifting the tax basis for rural communities, but that is bound to be fixable. The real issue is our disenfranchisement of our marginalized citizens and current laws that serve to consolidate wealth among those who already have enough. For the record, I have to count myself among those who have enough.

2/28/2006 8:33 AM  
Blogger Daniel said...

I believe in cutting the sales tax on food, but only because I am concerned about those for whom buying food is a major purchase. A clean solution is to provide a tax credit roughly equal to the amount of sales tax a household would pay in a year, and provide that credit only those those who have very low incomes. The problem is that many low income families may not know how to navigate the tax system. The recent bill to simplify the tax system and allow people to complete taxes on a postcard should help to alleviate those fears.

I think our Senate leaders should show more compassion for those who honestly struggle to earn a decent living.

2/28/2006 9:11 AM  
Blogger ~plaid said...

Daniel, if you are concerned about compassion for those who honestly struggle to earn a decent living, the tax credit you suggest wouldn't do that. The credit would be paid by the tax dollars of families who do not qualify for food benefits like food stamps, WIC, federal school lunch/breakfast program, and other charitable food programs privately or religiously organized (like the Utah food bank, Salvation Army, Bishop's Storehouse, etc.). The ones who are honestly struggling are those whose income falls just above the income eligibility ceiling for these kinds of programs. Those who are of the lowest income already have the food tax removed from their food purchases, because there is no tax charged on these sources. There is no need, then, for a tax credit to "compensate", as there is no expense to compensate for.

3/07/2006 9:08 AM  

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