...because of a memo sent by Palmer Depaulis, Utah tax commissioner. The article in the DesNews quoted the memo as saying, "To avoid any misunderstandings, the staff should only give clear, unbiased and objective data and information while representing the Tax Commission in a public meeting, and that information should be given without subjective nuance or argumentative tone. Therefore, when staff is representing the Tax Commission or acting as an agent of the Tax Commission they are not free to express their own positions, opinions and views. . . . In the future, if this guidance is not followed, disciplinary action may be taken." Palmer Depaulis claims that the letter was not a gag order and had nothing to with the personal income tax reform issue. The economist, Doug MacDonald, had 27 years with the commission and was often called upon my the Legislature to testify regarding tax matters. MacDonald was quoted as his reasoning for retiring as "threats of taking disciplinary action against me for answering" lawmakers' questions combined with HB213, a post-retirement health-care law that took effect Friday, were reasons enough to leave."
My problem with this issue is that in an issue as important as this (one I have written about ad nauseum) should encourage dissenting viewpoints and opinions. My second problem is that the language of the letter almost would forbid this economist fromtestifyingg to the legislature, because the legislature is asking for an opinion to be given. The governor and his "brain trust" are claiming that the reforms into a flatter tax will result in tax cuts almost universally for all Utahn's and those that see increases will see increases of "10 to 20 dollars". That seems incredulous with the information (lacking as it is) while most other evidence leans toward the flat tax resulting in higher taxes. Therefore all expert opinions should be given unimpeded, and valued.
I don't believe that their is any conspiracy to pass the flatter tax, however that memo (especially if it was targeted at this economist as the article leads one to believe) was agrievouss mistake regarding an issue as critical as totally overhauling the state's income tax structure.