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Opponents of controversial Utah tax reform say it's too much, too fast

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Utah tax reform is back, two months after Gov. Herbert and legislative leaders scuttled the “lower the rate, broaden the base” plan. (Photo: Brian Mullahy / KUTV)

(KUTV) — Utah tax reform is back, two months after Gov. Herbert and legislative leaders scuttled the “lower the rate, broaden the base” plan during the legislative session.

An interim Revenue and Taxation Committee heard about a "tax restructuring and equalization task force," whose job is to make recommendations on changing Utah’s tax code.

The original plan, announced late in the session, would have applied sales taxes on a wide range of services that are currently tax-free — but it met with flash firestorm of opposition.

Wednesday, opponents of the tax on services were back at the Capitol.

Krista Palmer, a businesswoman who heads a group called the Utah Tax Reform Coalition, said her organization has held five public meetings across the state, and heard no comments in favor of taxing services.

Gary Nielsen, who owns a chain of Gold’s Gyms in northern Utah, said he’s opposed to taxing lessons, which he described as "economic inputs." In the case of skiing lessons, he insisted students will go out and buy ski gear, lift tickets, and food for the excursions.

But legislative leaders have insisted sales taxes on goods are going down as a percentage of total state revenue, and something must be done to correct it — even as Utah has posted a big budget surplus.

The task force may report findings as early as next month, and recommendations in August.