Bill would offer tax credit for international, out-of-state adoptions of special needs kids

Published: Thursday, Feb. 7 2013 6:15 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah parents who adopt special needs children internationally or from other states would be eligible for a one-time $1,000 tax credit under a bill endorsed Thursday by the House Revenue and Taxation Committee.

Sen. Wayne Harper, R-Taylorsville, said SB31 would equalize the playing field with parents who are already eligible for the tax credit — those who adopted the children within Utah or from another state.

"We ought to treat the taxpayer the same. It's a one-time shot," Harper said.

Rep. Eric Hutchings, R-Kearns, said extending a tax credit to Utahns who adopt special needs children within the state addresses a "Utah taxpayer issue." 

Adopting a child from China, while "a good thing, a noble thing, I just wonder if Utah taxpayer dollars are appropriate to solve a China issue," Hutchings said.

Royce Van Tassell of the Utah Taxpayers Association also opposed the bill. He said sound tax policy encourages broadening the tax base and lowering rates.

"The best way to administer a program like this would be through an appropriations process," Van Tassell said.

Meanwhile, Cheryl Phipps of Utah PTA said the organization opposes all new tax credits.

"We are very concerned about the continual erosion (of the tax base) that has come as more and more of these tax credits come. We ask you to oppose the bill," Phipps said.

The refundable tax credit would be limited to adoptions of children ages 5 to 18 who have emotional, physical or mental disabilities.

The bill would cost taxpayers about $350,000, according to its fiscal note.

"It's going to be my opportunity to go through and fight for that in the Senate," Harper said.

David Hardy, immediate past president of the Utah Adoption Council, said it would be money well spent. 

"It's equitable for families adopting special needs children. Primarily, it's a benefit for Utah children who are going to be here," Hardy said.

E-mail: marjorie@desnews.com

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