Vest Pocket Business Coalition held our Local Business Advocacy Planning Breakfast on October 25 at the Pig & a Jelly Jar restaurant in Holladay. More than 30 business owners attended to learn from founding board member and past-President Karin Palle about Vest Pocket’s long history of advocating for local, independent businesses.
This was followed by a great discussion led by Vest Pocket Advocacy Chair Carol Elliott and Advocacy Co-Chair Jon Parry on the following issues:
- Personal Property Taxes on Business Tangible Property – The most hotly discussed issue in the event was frustration over the personal property tax requirements. Most business tangible personal property is subject to property tax under Utah state law. Furniture, fixtures, machinery, equipment and even supplies are all subject to taxation unless exempted. Notable exceptions are personal property with a total aggregate fair market value of $10,300 or less within a single county and inventory held for resale in the normal course of business. Many Vest Pocket businesses spend substantial time each year taking inventory of all personal property, preparing the required Personal Property Signed Statement, and paying the tax due. Businesses are also subject to audits by county assessors that can take up significant time and resources. Vest Pocket will work for reform of the personal property tax system in Utah because it is particularly burdensome on our local, independent businesses.
- Efairness – Vest Pocket has been a strong proponent of “E-fairness” legislation the past few years, including supporting E-fairness legislation at the Utah State Legislature. “E-fairness” legislation is designed to level the playing field between brick and mortar retail businesses and online retailers by requiring online retailers to collect sales tax on purchases that is already due under state law. While the Utah Legislature in the 2018 session might not consider “E-fairness” legislation again, Vest Pocket will continue to advocate on this issue at both the state and national levels.
- Liquor laws (new .05% blood alcohol limit) – In December 2018, the new Utah statue limiting a driver’s blood alcohol content to .05% takes effect. Even though the law does not become effective until December 2018, and the current BAC limit remains at .08%, restaurants and other establishments serving alcohol in Utah are already experiencing drops in business as people believe the law is effective now. Vest Pocket advocates that the legislature reconsider the .05% limit and wait for other states to lower the BAC level from the current .08% limit before lowering the allowable BAC limit.
Other issues Vest Pocket is focusing on include the ‘Count My Vote’ initiative, increasing public funding for education, tax incentives for growth of independent businesses (just like large businesses considering relocation or expansion in Utah are often given), and support for clean air initiatives.
If you own a small business and you weren’t able to join for our planning breakfast we still want to hear from you. Let us know what small issues Vest Pocket should be focusing our advocacy efforts on.
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Vest Pocket’s advocacy team will be active in the 2018 Utah legislative session and is working to possibly hire a professional lobbyist to help increase our efficacy in advocating for the interests of local, independently-owned businesses in Utah. To increase Vest Pocket’s impact, we encourage you to become a member or renew your membership, and let other local business owners know about our group. Positive change will happen only if we band together and work for our common interests as local, independent business owners.
The title sponsor for the October Vest Pocket event was Richards, Brandt, Miller, Nelson. Additional sponsors included Local First and Pig & A Jelly Jar.