Tax plan puts Trump and Republicans on the hook

President Trump is unusually ebullient when it comes to political victories. And with an obstructionist Congress and insurgent press, they have been rare indeed. However, there was a lot of crowing over the holidays as the Tax Reform bill squeaked through Congress on a purely partisan vote. President Trump, along with Congressional leaders such as Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, is very vocal about taking responsibility for the “largest tax cut in our country’s history”. Some enthusiasts are happy with the result. Many other analysts are not sure how this…

Free markets include taxation and regulation

On the political right, the free market is the holy grail of prosperity. And rightly so. Market-based economies have lifted more people out of poverty than any other economic system devised by man. After all, that is the purpose of any moral economic order: human happiness. Sometimes the political right forgets that end game. Sometimes the political right sees the means as an end and forgets that, like all other human systems, the market economy has its own ecology comprised of many components that ensure its success. Honest observers understand…

Utah’s online sales tax bill died because it had serious flaws

The Salt Lake Tribune carried an op-ed this week bemoaning Utah’s Legislature caving-in to Amazon by failing to enact an online sales tax this legislative session. While I certainly agree that the price differential is hurting Utah businesses, this bill was the wrong way to level the playing field. The primary obstacle to this bill was in its implementation. The bill declared that if internet companies advertised on a website owned by a resident or corporation (commonly called an affiliate link) that is incorporated in the state of Utah, that is enough…

Taxed to death and the people still vote for more

With the approval of Proposition 1 (Gas Tax) the combined state and local sales tax in San Juan County will increase from 5.95% to 6.20% countywide, in some cities it will increase to almost 7%– a change that will increase taxes in San Juan by $40 per person and $160 for an average family of four every year. This could mean the difference between a week or more of groceries for many families. That doesn’t sound too bad when considered separately, these tax increases may not sound like much, but…

Is Utah County Prop 1 good or bad for Highland?

On November 3rd the final votes will be cast on Utah County Proposition 1 which reads: “Shall Utah County, Utah, be allowed to impose a quarter-of-one-percent (0.25% or the equivalent of 1 cent for every $4 spent) sales use tax for the specific purpose of transportation improvements such as roads, trails, sidewalks, maintenance, bus and rail service, and traffic and pedestrian safety features, with the revenue divided among the county, cities and towns, and the public transit provider within the County.” Earlier in the year state law makers pass SB…

Say ‘No’ to Proposition 1

If approved, the combined state and local sales tax in San Juan County will increase from 5.95% to 6.20% countywide, in some cities it will increase to almost 7%– a change that will increase taxes in San Juan by $40 per person and $160 for an average family of four every year. This could mean the difference between a week or more of groceries for many families. Utah families have had enough new taxes this year as it is. The local option sales tax would be the third tax increase Utah…

Salt Lake County justice tax: Is it a ‘reinvention’ or a retaxation?

Salt Lake County elected officials have talked about “reinventing” the justice system for nearly the entire time I have lived in the county. And yet, here we are a decade later, and they still want to keep a tax that has lived its life paying down a bond debt. We keep talking about reinvention, but taxes aren’t all that new an idea. This week, Salt Lake County working on extending a tax originally used to build a new jail in 1995. “In 1995, Salt Lake County voters approved a 20-year bond…

An elected official pitches a “painless” new tax. A constituent responds.

In the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) world, we often say that the purpose of STEM is to create a new generation of critical thinkers and problem solvers. These skills are critical to arrive at well thought out, analytical decisions. Over the years I’ve noticed that in the political arena, we often see a problem, jump to a conclusion and then spend the rest of the time trying to justify our decision by finding as much support for our initial conclusion as possible. Emotional decision making has a place,…

The Power to Destroy

“The power to tax is the power to destroy,” said John Marshall, the fourth chief justice of the United States Supreme Court. Today we are taxed on nearly every activity in which we engage.  Go to the store? You pay sales tax. Fill up your tank with gas? You pay a gas tax. Work? You pay an income tax. Own property? You pay a property tax. Some taxation is necessary for government to fulfill its proper role.  For example a proper role of government is for our defense, and government…

What’s In a Poll: Do Utah voters really want a municipal tax hike?

How you do a poll makes all the difference in whether you can trust it. Because UtahPolicy.com’s latest poll draws from a statewide respondent pool instead of from local municipalities to gauge support for a municipal tax increase, local officials should be slow to rely too heavily on the favorable numbers. Using a poll by Dan Jones and Associates, the UtahPolicy.com headline says that “Utahns Favor Sales Tax Hike to Pay for Transportation.” According to the poll, “58 percent of Utahns said they favor such a tax increase, 41 percent oppose and 6 percent…