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Op-Ed: Chaffetz should be applauded not criticized for his tax reform bill

Earlier this week, the Utah Taxpayers Association President Howard Stephenson wrote an opinion article in the Daily Herald regarding Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz efforts to create a level-playing field among retailers as part of a national solution on remote sales taxes.

Chaffetz opponent, Chia-Chi Teng, has repeatedly attacked Chaffetz alleging that his proposal, HR 2775, would raise taxes. Read the entire article below, or click here.

Republican Congressional Candidate Chia-Chi Teng’s stand on Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s HR 2775, the Remote Transaction Parity Act, shows that Teng favors tax cheats over law-abiding taxpayers.

In recent statements and advertisements made by Teng, he has alleged that Congressman Chaffetz’s bill would increase taxes. That is a misrepresentation of what the Remote Transaction Parity Act does.

The measure would go after those who are evading state and local taxes and require them to start playing by the rules. It compels out-of-state online retailers to collect and remit sales taxes on the transactions they administer, which results in leveling the playing field among all retailers.

Americans are rightly outraged when they hear tax cheats are using offshore accounts to evade paying their fair share of income taxes. The same can be said in this case.

Since some retailers are choosing to not collect and remit the sales taxes on the transactions they handle, they are cheating other taxpayers and forcing taxes to increase on those following the law.

In all reality, Teng, and those who have fought against the bill, are the ones who are supporting tax increases by inaccurately attacking Chaffetz’s efforts. These opponents are saying they would rather let a few tax cheats keep getting away with avoiding taxes because they do not want to make them pay their fair share. The problem with that thinking is the more the government allows this to happen, the higher the taxes will be on those who are playing by the rules.

Sales tax revenue is the main source of government funding in Utah. The state, all 29 counties and all of our cities depend on this tax to provide essential services such as police and fire protection. Criticizers of the proposal are endangering these government budgets. They do not realize that if the problem of how we collect sales tax isn’t solved, it will mean higher property and income taxes in the long run.

The only reason we are facing this issue today is because of Congress’s inaction. While many lawmakers have agreed that the sales tax base is eroding because more sales are taking place online than at a local store, they have been too timid to tackle the issue for fear of political retribution. Just like we are seeing here in this primary election.

Chaffetz, however, should be applauded for his courage of taking on a tough issue and standing up for Utah retailers and protecting their ability to compete against out of state online competitors. The Utah Taxpayers Association and state taxpayer advocates across the nation have supported this legislation since its inception.

Utahns can be assured that should Chaffetz’s bill pass that does not mean the state will enjoy a windfall of cash to increase government spending. Rather the legislature, in 2013, created a lockbox for the revenue that will be generated from collection of sales taxes on out-of-state online transactions. That money will then be used to lower taxes for the entire state.

It is unfortunate that Chaffetz’s opponent has resorted to dishonest political tactics about the Remote Transactions Parity Act. It only causes more harm as it spreads false beliefs about this issue and makes it harder for the problem to be fixed. Chaffetz’s efforts are honorable and in the end will result in a more fair tax system for all Utahns.



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