To the editor:
House Bill 338 was reported in the Feb. 22 edition of the Deseret News to have passed both houses of the Legislature almost without opposition and to have been sent to Gov. Norm Bangerter for his signature.The lack of opposition by the legislators reflects the surreptitious nature of the process by which this bill has been rushed through the Legislature, apparently for the purpose of avoiding effective opposition by those most injured by one of its minor provisions.
The main purpose of HB338 is to reduce the losses in sales-tax remissions from the retail merchants to the state by requiring these remissions to be made monthly rather than quarterly. However, in order to neutralize opposition from the commercial establishment, a provision was included that makes it necessary for non-profit organizations to pay sales tax, to keep accounts of such payments and subsequently to apply to the state for reimbursement. Some churches, charitable organizations, the Utah Arts Council, the Salt Lake City Arts Council and the arts organizations of Utah are united in their opposition to this provision. Surely this block represents far more votes than the pallid opposition in the Legislature would suggest.
The opposition of non-profit organizations is based on the fact that most of these groups have neither the staffing nor the compliance/accounting skills necessary to seek such reimbursements. In addition, they cannot afford to have part of their meager stock of working funds resting in the state coffers while they await reimbursement.
Perhaps it is politically necessary to provide some sort of a sop to the merchants to get them to turn in their sales-tax receipts monthly. But do we have to take that sop out of the mouths of the churches, the charities and the arts organizations?
William P. Drews