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Utah's Truth in Taxation Law Faces Test

by Joe Monzon, Denver, September 2018

 

The Utah State Tax Commission reports that 53 cities, towns, school districts, water districts, and special districts are seeking to raise property taxes this year. In Tooele City, for example, the city is proposing to raise property taxes by 114.9%.

 

Ironically, many of the tax hikes are the result of Utah’s 33-year-old Truth in Taxation law, which was designed to help keep taxes low. Officials say the law worked too well for too long and now huge hikes are needed to make up for that.

 

Taxes Skyrocket

 

Tooele City isn’t the only Utah city aiming to double property taxes. So are Spring City and Monroe. Five others plan to raise ad valorem taxes between 50% and 85%, including:

 

1.

 

Scofield

2.

 

Richmond

3.

 

Smithfield

4.

 

Apple Valley

5.

 

Stockton

 

Murray, Enoch and Payson propose hikes of between 25% and 49%.

 

Big Hikes Follow Years of No Hikes

 

Several cities proposing the biggest property tax increases this year blame them partly on past leaders electing not to go through Truth in Taxation hearings. The law requires a public hearing whenever a local government proposes to raise property tax revenues beyond what it collected the previous year, plus the extra generated by any new growth.

 

The recently elected mayor of Tooele, with the state’s highest proposed increase, says it has been 36 years since the city raised taxes. Officials have been tapping savings to meet financial obligations in recent years, but that money is largely gone. It now needs to catch up with inflation and meet other needs such as boosting pay for police officers.

 

Truth in Taxation hearings for proposed property tax hikes were held in August before cities approve their budgets.