The board of governors of the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce approved a policy Tuesday that supports, under certain conditions, the use of sales tax exemptions as incentives to companies considering locating in the state.
The board said the exemptions should benefit the state's economy, promote economic development, and should not place existing industries at a competitive disadvantage.A periodic review of all sales tax exemptions is part of the policy, which also opposes an indiscriminate sunsetting of all exemptions.
The board has been facing the sales tax exemption issue for several weeks, but couldn't consider a policy until the Legislative Action Committee and executive committee approved it. The policy was formulated only a week before the Legislature adjourns.
More than a month ago, the board voted in favor of sales tax exemptions for ski resorts if the money was used to buy snow-making equipment or ski lifts that would make the resorts more competitive with those in other states. At that time, some board members were uncomfortable voting for the measure without a sales tax policy.
Three weeks ago, the board was asked to oppose a bill that would have eliminated sales tax exemptions for steel mills, government-owned aerospace tooling/equipment and certain manufacturers. That issue was tabled until a sales tax policy was presented.
The policy, presented by Legislative Action Committee Chairman Gary Fisher, says the board supports the existing state policy of not applying sales taxes to federal, state, county and city governments, property held for resale, ingredients or components of end products, services in the production chain, and motor fuels, because they already have their own state and federal taxes.
The policy also supports retaining sales tax exemptions already implemented as the result of agreements between the state and industry (as a means of inducing companies to locate in Utah).
The board also:
-Favors passage of SB25, which provides a two-year statute of limitations on product liability suits. Fisher said it is similar to SB21 and the board decided to support SB21 if SB25 doesn't pass.
-Supports passage of SB89, which prohibits all state agencies, state educational institutions and political subdivisions from competing with private providers unless certain conditions are met. Fisher said this bill has been heard by a committee and is likely to result in a lengthy study.
-Supports SB110, which provides a review of the 1992 sunset for a sales tax exemption to the manufacturing industry, which the chamber previously opposed. Fisher said several amendments have been made by Sen. Haven J. Barlow, R-Layton, the bill's sponsor. He said the bill is consistent with the board's recently adopted sales tax policy.
-Opposes SB123, which would create a users account in the Worker's Compensation Fund to be funded by a premium charged on the sale of motor fuel.
-Favors passage of SB156, which reaffirms the tradition of attorneys' fees in workmen's compensation cases being paid out of the claimant's award rather than forcing companies and insurance carriers to pay attorney fees, which is what SB147 would do.
-Opposes SB176, which would add a physician, educator and a tourist industry representative to the Utah Air Conservation Committee, bringing the group to 14. Fisher said the group would then be stacked against business interests.