OPINION — Gov. Gary Herbert sells his plan using the example of limousine services. Why? To convince his subjects that he’s sticking it to rich Daddy Warbucks instead of high schoolers going to prom. But of course he’s not really targeting limousine services and liposuction (the other service mentioned in his sales pitch – his sales team must think we all want to stick it to those “rich” Utahns who use or provide limousine and liposuction services).
No, he’s in fact going after every small business in Utah. Here’s a small sample: lawn mowers, tree trimmers, home remodelers, home repair, cleaning, excavators, engineers, swim teams, gymnastics teams, babysitters, day care providers, hair stylists, accountants, bookkeepers, divorce attorneys, soccer teams, piano teachers, referees and the list could go on and on. Apparently he thinks only rich people use or provide these services. He is sorely mistaken.
Interesting, he did exempt the real estate agents. Ask yourself why. Hint: Could it relate to Herbert’s previous ownership of Herbert and Associates Realtors and formerly serving as president of the Utah Association of Realtors which form a backbone of his support? And why didn’t he propose this during his recent election run?
The service industry has the lowest barrier to entry. Anyone at any age with a marketable skill – be it playing a musical instrument, styling or coaching others, or helping others in any other way – can start a business and provide their services to others with very little start-up costs.
In a world where so much of the retail economy is consolidating, it is the service sector that gives those with limited capital opportunities to work and start their own businesses. Thus any additional burden to these businesses should be shunned. There is a reason almost no states tax services – and this is it. It’s a heavy burden on individuals and small businesses to comply with the reporting requirements and then collect and report taxes.
And the failure to do it destroys lives – don’t comply and you face heavy penalties that in most cases cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. In other words, a teenager starts a lawn mowing business and fails to collect and pay over sales tax – the subsequent audit could destroy his or her financial future.
Utah people have an independent spirit that generates one of the most vibrant economies in the world. Herbert apparently wants to tap it for more money. Be assured, this is not about helping the poor. This is about the government expanding its tax base and reaching its greedy fingers into the gross revenues of every service provider in Utah.
Submitted by TROY BLANCHARD of TBlanchard Law, PC, St. George.
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