A new tax initiative was announced Thursday by the Small Business Administration.
The latest measure won't be on November's ballot with initiatives A, B and C, and is merely a "philosophical proposal" to Utah's tax problem, its author said. But, "Initiative D," unlike the other initiatives, cuts to the heart of the debate, he added."We're into so much debate of redistributing a shrinking pie. We need to focus on making the pie bigger," said Kent Moon, Utah district director of the U.S. Small Business Administration.
"The real issue is increasing Utah's economic growth and productivity."
Moon told the Deseret News that his fourth initiative proposes a plan for improved productivity by having Utah's small businesses become more export oriented.
The SBA is using the tax debate as a creative way to announce their new "Export Development Program," but the administration believes a more aggressive approach to exporting could broaden the federal and state tax bases.
Three tax initiatives on the November election ballot would limit property taxes, roll back state sales and income taxes to 1986 levels and offer a tax credit to parents whose children attend private school. Proponents of the measures say the change to lower taxes will make local government leaner and more efficient, while opponents claim the initiatives are radical and will destroy the state's education system and government services.
Moon, who didn't speak for or against the initiatives, told the Deseret News, "Taxes are important, but they are not the precedent issue here."
By increasing the state's economic productivity, the state's tax base would expand, he said, meaning more resources for both government and taxpayers and answering the questions posed by both camps battling over "the shrinking pie."
Moon said more than 90 percent of Utah's businesses are by definition small - either employing fewer than 500 people or with retail sales less than $3.5 million.
He didn't have exact figures, but Moon said from the size of the small-business sector it's not unreasonable to assume it contributes a large share of state tax revenue through its payroll and direct tax payments.
But small business plays a small role in Utah's $500 million annual export industry.
"Initiative D" proposes small business become more involved in exporting their products and services to foreign buyers, Moon said, which will improve the state's tax base by creating more jobs and stabilize the small business sector.
According to Department of Commerce figures, for every $1 billion in U.S. exports, 25,000 domestic jobs are created. Moon said if Utah could double its exports, the state could have another 12,000 jobs.
To help small businesses enter the world market, which Moon said is four times larger than the U.S. market, the SBA is launching a program that will provide small businesses with information on foreign markets.
Under the program the SBA will provide a small business with a foreign country's backround, economic and commercial environment and distribution contacts. The SBA will also help with marketing strategies and alternatives.