Republican lawmakers continue to struggle with a solution to a property tax inequity caused by a Utah Supreme Court decision involving the AMAX Corp., with House leaders putting together preliminary figures Wednesday showing their favored solution would mean a $7 increase on the average home in Utah, and a $12 increase on the average Salt Lake County home.
Rep. John Valentine, R-Orem, a tax attorney in private life, has been working for weeks on various scenarios to solve the problem. Wednesday, Valentine gave the House GOP caucus a chart listing the tax changes by county on the average home, vehicle, business buildings and business equipment."These are only my best work to date. I warn they may not be accurate when we're finished," Valentine said.
The tax on the average Salt Lake County home would go up $12, tax on the average vehicle would go down $4, tax on the average county business building would go up $458, while the tax on the business's equipment would go down $197.
These complications over tax increases comes because the high court ruled that AMAX Corp. was unfairly taxed. It said the magnesium mining company had to get the same 20 percent discount on property assessments given homes and local businesses. That throws into jeopardy $56 million in property taxes - the 20 percent portion of taxes paid by large, multicounty businesses that were being taxed like AMAX.
House Speaker Craig Moody, R-Sandy, said lawmakers could adjourn Feb. 27, the end of the session, and not solve the AMAX problem. "But I think that would be irresponsible. The problem won't go away. We may get out with minor scratches (in tax shifts) if we do it now. Next year or the year after (the solution) could cause major bloodletting."
Valentine put it succinctly: "I don't think anyone will lose an election over a $7 increase in (homeowner) property taxes."