Legislature bill on online sales tax going from Senate to House

Legislature bill on online sales tax going from Senate to House


Ralph Okerlund

Senator District 24



With Week 5 of the 2017 Legislative Session over, we are now more than two-thirds of the way done! We have passed a total of 163 bills and they just keep on coming. This week we were also honored to hear reports from Senator Orrin Hatch and Congresswoman Mia Love.

I would like to share some of my bills currently awaiting debate on the Senate floor. One of them is SB204, or my Public Private Partnerships bill. This bill expands and allows the use of public-private partnerships in the procurement of projects. It allows more project sponsorship by 3rd party companies, and helps reduce required government budget appropriations.

Another bill of mine awaiting Senate debate is an Outdoor Recreation Grant, or SB264. This bill creates the State Transient Room Tax Act, which slightly increases tourist taxes in order to pour more money into Utah’s outdoor recreation projects. This tourist tax has been in the works since early January, and is predominately a hotel tax. Because the standard guest to a Utah-based hotel is local to a different state (i.e. Colorado, Nevada, Arizona), the tax will largely not affect Utah residents. Readers who have plans to stay in a local Utah hotel need not fret either; the tax increase is extremely minor, and will hardly add to your bill.

One current issue in the legislature is online sales tax. In Utah, our legislative fiscal analysts have estimated that around $220 million of owed sales tax go unpaid because of online purchases. While Utahns are currently required to pay sales tax for their online purchases, fewer than two-percent actually pay their owed tax. That is $220 million that we could be spending on education, infrastructure, and social services.

Because online retailers are not required to collect the owed sales tax, this also creates an unfair advantage to online retailers, and makes it difficult for our local, brick-and-mortar businesses to thrive. 1SB110 would balance the playing field and help collect the owed tax. This bill would require retailers who earn over $100,000 of sales in Utah to begin collecting sales tax. For an affiliate, the threshold is $10,000 of sales in Utah before they are required to collect sales tax. This bill passed out of the Senate this week and will now be considered by the House.

Once again, this is a shorter letter than usual. I hardly have a full report to share, largely because we didn’t have a full work week in the Senate. I’m hoping that everyone took advantage of last week’s President’s Day, and that your days aren’t as busy as mine.

Keep sending emails concerning Senate or House bills that excite or concern you. These emails have many times helped me identify potential problems and solutions to Utah’s top issues. If you’d like to meet with me, you can reach out to my intern, Saren Winter, at (335) 441-0600. You can also email her at swinter@le.utah.gov.

It is an honor to represent you- my neighbors, my colleagues, my family, and my friends.