CACHE COUNTY – Local volunteers have collected about 41% of the signatures needed to help secure their portion of an effort to contest Utah’s new tax reform bill, according to volunteer organizer, Craig Bowden.
The Utah Legislature passed the bill during a special session in December 2019.
However, because it failed to pass by at least two-thirds of the legislature, residents can challenge the law with a statewide referendum.
Petitions are circulating throughout the state in hopes of gathering 116,000 signatures by January 21. That total must include 8% of registered voters in at least 15 of Utah’s 29 counties. If the petition reaches the required threshold, the new tax law would go on a ballot in 2020 for voters to approve or repeal.
Volunteers in Cache Valley began collecting signatures more than two weeks ago. As of Monday night, Bowden said they had 1,913 of the 4,560 signatures needed.
Hillary Gingell volunteered to collect signatures at the Macy’s in Providence on Monday morning.
Gingell lives in Box Elder County and is strongly against the current tax reform bill. She has a small business and said the new taxes would greatly impact the business and her family.
“I make farm house signs,” she said. “It wouldn’t affect the product, but would affect the shipping and handling.”
The bill that sparked the referendum lowers the state income tax from 4.95% to 4.66% and offers tax breaks for low- to moderate-income residents. The package also adds the sales tax to some service-based businesses and increases the sales tax on gas and unprepared food.
“I have five kids,” said Gingell. “Food is huge for me. We spend a substantial amount on food every month, not to mention gas because we live in the middle of nowhere and have to drive for everything.”
Janette Merrill volunteered alongside Gingell on Monday.
“My husband works out of the valley,” said Merrill. “Fuel costs are going to go up, which in turn takes it out of our budget. We need to get people educated and they need to understand how it’s going to affect them as an individual and what we can do about it.”
Utah Governor Gary Herbert put together a FAQ to help answer questions about Utah’s new tax law. Read it here.
Information about the tax referendum can be found at fb.com/2019TaxReferendum.