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NEWS - "The clock is ticking to sign tax reform referendum"

BOX ELDER COUNTY – By Cari Doutre – Jan. 20, 2020

Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020, is officially the last day for registered voters in Utah to sign a referendum that opposes Utah’s S.B 2001 Tax Restructuring Previsions bill, a bill that would increase sales tax on two basic necessities, food and gasoline, and start charging sales tax on services Utahns use daily.

On Dec. 12, 2019, Utah Governor Gary Herbert called a special session for all members of the Utah legislature to discuss fixing a revenue imbalance in the state’s budget and implementing a $160 million tax cut for Utah citizens. That bill, S.B. 2001 Tax Restructuring Previsions bill, was passed that day.

In Box Elder County there are three lawmakers that were present at the special session on Dec. 12. They include Utah House of Representatives, Rep. Joel Ferry, Republican – District 1 and Rep. Lee Perry, Republican – District 29. Also in attendance during that special session from the Utah Senate was Sen. Scott D. Sandall - District 17 (Box Elder, Cache and Tooele counties).

All three men voted for the S.B. 2001 Tax Restructuring Previsions bill.

It didn’t take long for the people to fight back with a referendum. A group called The Utah Special Session 2019 Tax Reform was formed. This is a non-partisan group of Utah citizens against the bill.

Their task was clear – educate citizens and collect the signatures of registered voters in Utah. It is a move that shows Utah’s legislature and governor a vote of no confidence in this bill. This will give registered voters in Utah the chance to vote for it or against the S.B. 2001 Tax Restructuring Previsions bill on Nov. 3, 2020.

A quick break-down of S.B. 2001 Tax Restructuring Previsions bill looks like this…

Utah currently has a sales tax rate of 1.75 percent on unprepared food (the majority of food you buy at the grocery store then take home and prepare). Grocery bills will increase with a new sales tax rate of 4.85 percent.

At the gas station you’ll see a .06 per gallon increase starting April 1, 2020. By the year 2020 it will jump to $.10 per gallon. This is to allow the state to direct a portion of the new sales tax to transportation projects.

The bill, S.B. 2001, introduces a 4.85 percent sales tax on services that previously didn’t require it. That includes subscriptions to print and digital newspapers, possibly including the digital newspaper you’re reading this article on.

Love your streaming media services such as Netflix, Hulu and Disney Plus? Taxable. And what about dating referral services? They are all on the list.

Taking your dog to the groomer, a boarder or daycare will also cost you more, it is also on the list. Even a trip to the vending machine and the laundromat are included. That is just a few of the services on the list.

Don’t worry ladies, that 4.85 percent sales tax you pay for menstrual products will be taken off the list of taxable goods.

The bill was aimed at restoring the Education and Higher Education funds from the sales tax-based General Fund. Lawmakers want to restore funds to school lunch and underage drinking programs and the general Education fund.

Citizens and volunteers in Box Elder County have also been busy collecting signatures and offering up their support. Setting political parties aside, a non-partisan group, all with the same goal, have been extremely busy for the past three weeks.

One of those advocates in the county that has spent endless hours collecting signatures and talking to citizens is Kris Udy. She hasn’t been afraid to express her opinion on the S.B. 2001 Tax Restructuring Previsions bill.

“It was simple for me. This bill is wrong. I really don’t have a problem standing up for what is right, although most of the time it’s definitely not the ‘popular’ thing to do amongst the establishment. I do not appreciate anyone taking my freedoms and liberty away,” Udy said.

It didn’t take long for Udy to start collecting signatures.

“I began gathering signatures on Dec. 30. That was the quickest I could get the signature packets in my hands. Because this is a citizen’s referendum, we had to finance it ourselves. We needed time to gather enough money to print the packets. Each packet cost $5 and we have printed 6,000 packets to date,” Udy said.

All that time spent talking to residents in public, often at the entrance to grocery stores in Box Elder County, Udy has learned exactly how people in the county feel about S.B. 2001 Tax Restructuring Previsions bill.

“People are mad. They are mad that our very own legislators voted for this awful bill in a special session right during the Christmas holiday. It was a sneaky move that should not have happened,” Udy said.

That sneakiness Udy says was more than just a timing issue.

“It is most people’s feelings that they (legislature) met at that time so they could hide it and hope nobody saw what they did. People would ask ‘why are they taxing me more and then giving me back at the end of the year? Why not just not take my money to begin with?’” Udy added.

Udy’s explained that it was a tactic that legislators played with tax money and tried to hide it from the “common citizen,” she said.

“This is a shell game with our tax money. Most of the income tax deduction comes from our own monies that should have been reimbursed to us in 2018 from the Trump tax cuts,” she said. “They chose not to give it back to us then and spent it. Now they are trying to sell us on the fact that this is the biggest tax decrease ever. I don’t like being lied to.”

It’s those citizens that Udy is fighting for. Her main focus is protecting small business, families, senior citizens, basically everyone in her community. She isn’t afraid to stand up and fight.

“It is just one more thing that our small businesses don’t need. One more tax on our families, more tax on our seniors and those with fixed incomes,” she said.

She also doesn’t appreciate the way the bill was presented to the people.

“The legislature feels like they are so much smarter than the rest of us. They chose to take the choice away and just pass a law to make us. This bill is so complicated that you would have to hire an accountant to try and figure it out. We should be simplifying taxes, not over complicating them,” Udy said.

The deadline to sign the referendum is tomorrow, Jan. 21.

In Box Elder County registered voters can sign the referendum on Monday, Jan. 20, at Kent’s Market in Tremonton from noon to 6 p.m.
In Brigham City citizens can sign the referendum on Monday, Jan. 20, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Kent’s Market and on Tuesday, Jan. 21, from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Box Elder County needed at least 8 percent of registered voters to sign the referendum. Udy estimates they have gathered around 2,500 signatures so far.

“That’s well over the 8 percent needed for our county,” she added.

For more information on revised S.B. 2001 click on the link below.


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