Deseret News
Letter to the Editor

In the mad rush to achieve a legislative win with tax reform, Congress is overlooking some critical issues. Chief among them is the impact that tax reform will have on programs serving low-wage Utahns, seniors and children.

Among other programs, the White House and the House of Representatives budget plans would cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by at least $140 billion over 10 years. These cuts would grow deeper over time, reaching a 40 percent cut in current funding by 2027 under the House plan. This kind of cut would require decreasing benefits and restricting eligibility and will increase food insecurity and hunger for already struggling households. SNAP provides basic food aid to over 200,000 Utahns, the vast majority (71 percent) of which are children under the age of 17, seniors and people with disabilities. Benefits are already modest; households receive just $1.40 per person, per meal, on average.

Utah’s congressional delegation is touting the talking points for tax reform, yet it is difficult to see how it benefits their most vulnerable constituents. Only Sen. Lee has provided a concrete example of his plans. His response is that he is working on an amendment to expand the child tax credit. Yet, this expansion is refundable based on payroll tax liability, so a very low-income parent with no tax liability would not benefit from this expansion. Families with very low incomes would also likely face cuts to other benefits like child care, after-school programs and food assistance, making it even more difficult for them to survive. So far what we’ve heard is that Utahns will benefit from tax reform, but the devil is in the details. What those details tell us is that you may benefit from tax reform if you aren’t poor.

Gina Cornia

Salt Lake City