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Utah legislators abandon sweeping tax follow-up, planning to study the issue of interim

Utah Gary Gary Herbert and Legislative Leader announced Thursday that they are abandoning efforts during the current session, ending March 14, to oversee the state's tax code. The sudden twist occurred before the pressure and criticism of the industry, society and educational leaders. The message follows weeks of closed negotiations on HB441, which attempted to dramatically increase the state's VAT tax by adding new taxes on service-based activities. The new taxes would have been offset by a corresponding reduction to the state's income tax, which was earmarked for expenditure on public education. "For a variety of reasons, we will not proceed with the persecution of HB441 in the next week or two," said House Speaker Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville. Herbert, Wilson and Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, pledged to continue discussions on the tax reform in coming months with the governor saying he hopes to call the legislature back to a special session "this summer". The governor had declared the tax reform his first priority during the 2019 session under his state, and had built up a combination of reforms and hundreds of millions of dollars in tax cuts in his budget recommendations. On Thursday he burst as he was asked if he and the lawmakers had "devastated" to public pressure and said that the word is pejorative and statutory leader instead "responded to what the public understands and wants to do." "I don't think we were doing anything," Herbert said. Wilson said it is "tricky" to address a subject as…

Utah Gary Gary Herbert and Legislative Leader announced Thursday that they are abandoning efforts during the current session, ending March 14, to oversee the state’s tax code. The sudden twist occurred before the pressure and criticism of the industry, society and educational leaders.

The message follows weeks of closed negotiations on HB441, which attempted to dramatically increase the state’s VAT tax by adding new taxes on service-based activities. The new taxes would have been offset by a corresponding reduction to the state’s income tax, which was earmarked for expenditure on public education.

“For a variety of reasons, we will not proceed with the persecution of HB441

in the next week or two,” said House Speaker Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville.

Herbert, Wilson and Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, pledged to continue discussions on the tax reform in coming months with the governor saying he hopes to call the legislature back to a special session “this summer”.

The governor had declared the tax reform his first priority during the 2019 session under his state, and had built up a combination of reforms and hundreds of millions of dollars in tax cuts in his budget recommendations.

On Thursday he burst as he was asked if he and the lawmakers had “devastated” to public pressure and said that the word is pejorative and statutory leader instead “responded to what the public understands and wants to do.”

“I don’t think we were doing anything,” Herbert said.

Wilson said it is “tricky” to address a subject as a tax reform during Utah’s annual 45-day session, and that there is value to take more time to consider the proposed changes.

“We will stick to it,” he said. The form of HB441, published publicly last week, with the session March 14 postponing rapidly approaching. The measure would have begun to tax everything from funeral services to grassland, from legal services to riding services such as Uber and Lyft.

(Christopher Cherrington | Salt Lake Tribune)

Salt Lake Tribune will update this story.

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